Photo Credit: Val Wutti
Jack Matier is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible defenseman, who hails from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. His father, Mark Matier, was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft and played for the 1993 Memorial Cup champion Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Matier’s mother, Stacey Matier and Mark still reside in the Sault Ste. Marie area.
Prior to his time in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Matier played youth hockey for Soo Greyhounds U14 AAA, Soo Thunder U15 AAA and the Soo Thunderbirds U16 AAA. Matier was drafted 21st overall by the Ottawa 67’s in the 2019 OHL Priority Draft and made his OHL debut in 2019. In his first season with the 67’s, he tallied nine points in 56 games played. Throughout the season, his defensive partners shifted around and thus he spent time with Noel Hofenmayer, Alec Bélanger, Kevin Bahl and Merrick Rippon on his left side.
Due to COVID-19, Matier didn’t play in the OHL this year. But, was named to Canada’s U18 roster at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championships in Frisco, Texas and Plano, Texas. Matier recorded one point in the tournament. He had recorded an assist when he fired a stretch pass to Shane Wright. Wright was at the blue-line in the neutral zone, collected the pass and scored a snap shot goal from the perimeter.
At this point, the next time that Matier is scheduled to play again is when the 2021-2022 OHL season kicks off. Potentially, we could see Matier play at the PBHH Invitational tournament in Erie, Pennsylvania, but the rosters are not finalized yet.
D.O.B – April 8, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –205 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right
Matier’s Style Of Play
Before I go through Matier’s play in all three zones and provide color on his skating and decision-making, I want to explain that Matier is a defensive defenseman. He is not a two-way defenseman, but has shown that he is a capable of delivering a breakout pass to key up a rush. In addition, I haven’t seen many offensive defenseman traits in his game. Matier truly shines when defending in the neutral zone and his own zone.
When in his own zone, Matier displays good positioning. When his defensive partner switches sides with Matier behind the red line, Matier who traditionally plays on the right side, stays to the left side of the net to keep watch incase something comes up and the puck wanders towards the left side of the net.
Ideally, I’d like Matier to be faster on his feet when trying to pick up a loose puck defensive recovery. There have been a few instances in which Matier got beat out by an attacker and he didn’t seem to generate quite a bit of speed to counteract the attacker. Speaking of quickness and explosiveness, you will also see Matier struggle to keep pace when defending a two-on-one attack. When one attacker passes to the other, Matier will have some challenges keeping pace and will have difficulty reacting quickly to the puck movement.
From a gap control perspective, Matier has displayed quality gap control in low danger situations. He will loosen up slightly when defending an attacker who is wrapping the net, but will tighten back up quickly. Matier has shown that he can hold his own and will continue to implement pressure when his opponents attempt to pivot out in an effort to dodge the back-check. In terms of when he tends to tighten, he will tighten up his gap control around the perimeter. When defending the rush, he will look to apply more pressure before the perimeter, but if the attack is running the cycle, he will opt to wait till the perimeter to tighten the gap.
Ultimately, Matier needs to work on following through with his checks. You will notice that he has similar physicality issues that Nikita Chibrikov has. He will go in for a check, but doesn’t follow through with the check. While he does struggle at asserting enough force to shut down the cycle, he will use his upper body strength to put pressure on his opponents’ arms in puck battles which makes it a challenge for puck carriers to retain control of the puck.
When defending the rush in the neutral zone, he will lower and widen his body to take up as much space as possible and limit the attacker’s puck movement lanes. Matier will use an active stick in the neutral zone to trap his opponent and force him to dump the puck into the defensive zone. In addition, you will also notice that when an attacker isn’t facing Matier’s defensive zone and focused on a teammate who possesses the puck, Matier will skate up when he notices that the attacker will be receiving the puck off of a pass. He skates up to trap the attacker, so that when the attacker turns and heads up ice, Matier is waiting for him and limits the amount of room that the attacker has.
When Matier is in control of the puck in the defensive zone but looking to move the puck up the ice, most of the time he is looking to execute zone exit passes. Matier tends to prefer short zone exit passes, but you will see him complete stretch passes and saucer passes to get the puck moving into the offensive zone. Ideally, I would like Matier to further develop his stretch passes as there are passing attempts which aren’t clean and lead to rolling pucks instead of a smooth tape-to-tape feed.
Matier will also dump the puck into the neutral zone when dealing with a heavy forecheck. While there are instances in which he will dump the puck out when dealing with pressure, he has also shown that when pinned against the boards that he will keep his balance and throw the puck along the boards to his defensive partner if he can’t find a way to get the puck into the neutral zone.
Skating is an area which needs further development for Matier. Matier isn’t a consistent straight-line skater. There are situations in which his skates aren’t pin-pointed towards his intended destination. His ankle flexion needs some adjustment as well. In my viewings, I didn’t see Matier’s knees sit in line with the toe of his skate when he is in full stride. In addition to the ankle flexion, you will notice that his skate extensions aren’t always synchronized and the left skate will have a longer extension than his right skate.
When looking to accelerate, Matier will use his crossovers to pick up speed. Matier has shown that he can get his feet moving at a quality pace with well-placed lateral crossovers that allow him to catch up to puck carriers. Sometimes, he struggles to generate enough speed, but there are plenty of situations where he does generate the speed that he needs to catch up to the puck.
But, there are situations where he prefers not to use crossovers for acceleration. Those situations pop up when he is looking to skate backwards to combat a rush. Matier will go with two forward stride extensions and then flip backwards to gather enough speed to handle the rush. But, that’s not the ideal technique to gain enough acceleration when skating backwards. Crossovers are your best friend when looking to gain momentum while skating backwards. Taking two forward stride extensions will give you speed, but flipping around afterwards will put you in a vulnerable spot.
From an extension perspective, as I mentioned earlier, I would like Matier to work on a lengthier stride extension when going after loose pucks in the defensive zone.
When in control of the puck, Matier will play the puck out in front of him to draw attackers in when he is on pace to complete a controlled zone exit and then will swing the puck to his left to move the puck around the attacker. Also, he deploys good reach when moving the puck towards the net, he will position the puck to the right of the defender, stretch out his stick to avoid the poke-check and the move the puck to the net with ease.
While he does possess good stick-handling traits, he will struggle at times when moving the puck around tight pressure in the neutral zone.
Occasionally, you will see Matier struggle with his decision making. He will attempt break out passes with an attacker right in front of him in the defensive zone. Sometimes he will play the puck from behind his own net into oncoming traffic instead of passing the puck to a forward. There are moments where he will attempt to dump the puck in the neutral zone with the attack bearing down on him and he will dump the puck right to the attacker.
While there are times that Matier struggles with his decision making when in control of the puck, you have to remember that Matier is a defensive defenseman and will need further development with puck control.
In the offensive zone, Matier possesses good positioning. He will stick to the point, but will pinch up to medium danger if the offensive cycle is behind the red line and multiple teammates are in a puck battle. If he gains control of the puck from the puck battle, he will routinely skate back to the point with the puck and re-group.
If he is the first attacker in the offensive zone with the puck, you can expect him to dump the puck down the boards to set up a dump and chase for his forwards.
As we mentioned earlier, Matier is a defensive defenseman, so he doesn’t net a lot of points, but when he does he will often net assists for himself on re-directed shots.
If Matier’s goal is to evolve into more of two-way defender, he will need to hone in on his offensive development. His shot will need to improve as his accuracy can be a little rusty at times and he will need to work on enhancing his puck distribution.
Third Pairing Defender/Shut Down Role (NHL)
Matier has proven that he can be reliable defensive defenseman and I could see him being a solid fit on a shut down/third pairing defensive group in the NHL down the road.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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