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NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Matt Spencer

AJ Haefele Avatar
June 9, 2015

 

Get to Know Matt Spencer

Date of Birth: 3/24/1997
Place of Birth: Guelph, ON, CN
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 203 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Defenseman
Team: Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Drafted 3rd overall, ahead of Exceptional Status player Sean Day, in the loaded 2013 OHL Draft, Matt Spencer had big-time expectations when he arrived in Peterborough. While his Petes teams have struggled in his tenure, it certainly hasn’t been the fault of Spencer.

Spencer has been Peterborough’s top defender in his time there and while he struggled initially, his progress this past season provides plenty of room for optimism that he’ll ascend the rankings of the OHL elite and turn into the start everyone expected when he was drafted.

His game took a leap this past season and should he continue to develop the way he has in the last 12 months, the Petes and Spencer could be in for something special in the near future. From the NHL’s perspective, Spencer is right where he should be as a player who will be highly drafted into the world’s best league and he’ll be given a final season or two to show he can live up to that lofty OHL draft status.

Statistics

What Scouts See

Elite Prospects:

A very strong, transitional two-way defender that excels in pressure situations and isn’t afraid to make the most of his, at times excessive, amount of ice time. Possesses a very high level of hockey sense, exhibited through the way he can read plays and play his part in them like a quarterback. Shows excellent mobility and, while willing to join the rush and create offense, is simultaneously aware of the back-end situation and is quick to backcheck. All-in-all, a complete two-way defender who competes vigorously, and is out to prove, every time he is on the ice, that he can be depended upon in all situations.

Hockey Prospectus:

Not an elite skater, but has more than enough mobility to play at the next level. Quick hands. Good first pass to get out of danger. Exit passes are extremely sharp – O-zone passes as well. Good gap control. Teams tend to attack the other side so as to avoid him on zone entries. Plays on first PK unit. Has strength to do well at board play. Will bump above-averaged sized players off the puck, but not overpowering.

What BSN Avalanche sees

Guys like Matt Spencer are always tough to figure out where to start when evaluating him. He’s a guy that does a little of everything and a lot of some things but isn’t exceptional or bad at any of them. He’s simply rock solid all the time. NHL teams are going to love his high hockey IQ because he is always where he needs to be and rarely makes a mistake, especially defensively.

Spencer is notable for pure ice in his veins as he plays and thrives in all pressure situations for the Petes. He’s their top defenseman and has been occasionally criticized for being given too many minutes. While a rock defensively, Spencer also exhibits some serious skills offensively.

His bullet of an outlet pass is noted in almost every scouting report you read from him and it certainly shows up prominently on tape. He makes great decisions with the puck and while he’s not every going to be a prominent scorer, he exhibits the ability to make NHL-caliber passes all over the ice.

He’s a good skater who plays a smart, reliable north-south game and his only weakness might be that he’s not an elite athlete. His lateral movement and short-burst quickness need improving and he’s going to need to improve his strength at the pro level. Other than that, there’s not a lot to dislike about this kid.

Highlights (#27 in White)

NHL Potential

Spencer profiles as a middle-pairing defenseman who could play a shutdown role and excel on the PK. His offense won’t get him paid in the NHL but he shouldn’t be a liability either. His floor is a depth defenseman who bounces around the league as a 7th defenseman type of player.

Expected Draft Position

Spencers rankings are as follows: 68, 73, 45, 50, with the high mark of 45 being given by Future Considerations. These rankings suggest Spencer is likely an early day two selection, either in the 2nd or 3rd round.

How Prospect Fits in Avalanche Organization

Spencer’s consistent two-way play would make him a good fit for the Avalanche, especially if he lasted to Colorado’s third round selection, 71st overall.  He wouldn’t be the most touted prospect in a system loaded with defensive prospects but as a right-handed prospect he brings that small-but-important dynamic that Colorado’s system currently lacks.

If Colorado were to select Spencer with their second round pick at 40th overall, it would be considered a reach based on the rankings but I think he’d still be a great fit in Colorado. He is everything the Avalanche front office has been seeking in recent years as a big, physical player with high hockey IQ. His selection certainly won’t be a sexy one but it should pay off down the road.

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