Mattias Samuelsson didn’t have to wait long Saturday to hear his name at the 2018 NHL draft.
Samuelsson of the USA National Team Development Program was selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the first pick of the second round (32nd overall) at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
If Samuelsson’s last name rings a bell, it should. He’s the son of Kjell Samuelsson, who played eight seasons with the Flyers and is the team’s director of player development.
The Voorhees, New Jersey, native is committed to Western Michigan University, where he’ll join his brother, Lukas Samuelsson, and Flyers 2016 second-round pick Wade Allison.
“I’m born and raised in South Jersey. I still live there,” Samuelsson said Saturday. “I love it there. I go back and I still hang out with all my friends in middle school. … I’m really thankful that’s where my childhood happened.”
Samuelsson is a left-handed defenseman with tremendous size, much like his father. At the combine, he measured in at 6-foot-4, 218 pounds — two inches shorter than his dad.
“Mattias is a good player. He’s big, he’s smart, he’s well-rounded,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week. “You can call him a two-way defenseman. He’s going to be a good player.
“Big Kjell always says, ‘Big man with good hands.’ I’m like, ‘Hmm … you get the first part right anyways. Big man. No, [Mattias] is a different player. He’s not as mean as big Sammy, which I say that as a compliment to big Sammy, but he’s more skilled than his dad.”
Samuelsson opted for college hockey instead of major junior hockey, which was an option. The Sarnia Sting drafted Samuelsson in the fourth round of the 2016 OHL draft.
Former Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher owns the Sting, and he drafted Samuelsson knowing the defenseman's plans, according to the Courier-Post.
“When we played colleges and international,” Samuelsson told the Courier-Post, “I didn’t have to hold it back there, and that’s where I thought I played my best.”
Samuelsson closed as the 21st-rated North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. He registered 38 points in 58 games with the U.S. U-18 team and 14 points in 23 games in the USHL. He captained Team USA during the 2018 U-18 World Junior Championships.
While he’s a different player, Samuelsson will never stop taking advice from his dad.
“He was a pretty big defenseman, so he’s definitely telling me to stick up for myself and how to use my body to my advantage,” Samuelsson said. “To me, I never felt like I was any type of target or anything like that [because my dad was an NHL player].”
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