If you are of the camp of skill above all else, Matthew “Mackie” Samoskevich is the player.
Described as one of the best “pure skill” players in the draft, Samsokevich has fantastic hockey sense and the puck-handling creativity to take advantage of the way he sees the game. At 5-foot-11 and 190 lbs, Samoskevich is neither big nor small, but just in the soft area where his size is neither a detriment nor an advantage. He has suffered because while the talent on the ice is so plainly obvious, for some reason, it hasn’t translated onto the score sheet.
Currently committed to the University of Michigan, his last season was with the Chicago Steel of the USHL, where he netted himself 13 goals and 37 points in 36 games. Impressive totals, but not up to the level you see of his talent.
With Samoskevich, the hope is that he’ll be able to put it all together, as the tools are all there. He has the work ethic, the speed and the talent to be a top-level offensive weapon, and while this may not seem like an in-depth analysis of what he has to do to get there, the field agrees that “it just needs to click”. An ephemeral goal to have, but one that everyone seems to agree on.
While not pertinent to his success on the ice, it would seem dismissive to not mention Samoskevich’s tragic past related to the Sandy Hook shooting. I don't have the tact to do that story any justice, so if you have a subscription to The Athletic, I urge you to read Scott Wheeler’s well-written story about Samoskevich’s experience.
He isn’t an obvious home run, but he is a first-round talent while not getting the hype that first-rounders often do. Late in the first round or into the second round, he’s exactly the type of high-risk, high-reward teams should be taking.
#26 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
#19 by Elite Prospects
#47 by Craig Button/TSN
#39 by Dobber Prospects
#27 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic
What Scouts are Saying
Samoskevich may be one of the best combinations of skill and pace outside the top group of this year’s draft. He’s inconsistent, and seemingly focused on the offensive game and moving pucks on his own stick, leading to offensive creation, but when it works, it works. He’s a ton of fun to watch and to me was one of the few non-NTDP players who shined well at the Biosteel game.
Mackie Samoskevich. Very fun. pic.twitter.com/DQNv3cOrHV— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) July 18, 2021
He’ll blend pass receptions into highly creative dangles around defenders, with top-hand control of his stick pushed out from his body, and quick-twitch wrists to string it all together. He manages space exceptionally well, constantly scanning for the positions of his teammates and opponents alike. And he uses that mental map of the ice to plan his every maneuver one or two plays ahead of the competition.
- EliteProspects 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Matthew Samoskevich is so, so smooth. Excellent rush here by the youngest American in tournament #2021NHLDraft #HlinkaGretzkyCup pic.twitter.com/hpD69tdxlo— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) August 7, 2019
An uber skilled forward who has a high-level of raw skill and the ability to pull fans out of their seats. He has some of the silkiest hands in the draft and soft touch on his passing. He has the potential to be a volume scorer at the next level if he can translate his game.
- Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
Mackie Samoskevich with a laser beam. He's up to 25 points in 22 USHL games. #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/BeNvsztBnW— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) March 7, 2021
His ability with the puck and the speed with which he’s able to execute both rank among the very best in this draft. His feet and hands can both keep up with one another, turning defenders on their heels (and sometimes inside out). There’s a genius to his game that allows him to see plays through layers that others don’t, and then he’s got the finesse needed to feather saucer passes off of his forehand and backhand and execute them. I love the way he moves inside the offensive zone and the high tempo he plays with.
Would He Fit In With The Wild?
He may be a long-term project, but anytime you can reach for a player whose game has been categorized as “genius” or one of the best offensive players in the draft, I think you find a way for him to fit. The timeline for his development is really up in the air, but Samoskevich has a top-six ceiling — or higher.
He really could be the type of player that in five years we look back and think, “how on Earth did he go so low?”.
Could The Wild Get Him?
Rankings have him all over the place, going anywhere from mid-first round to mid-second round. Because of the way he’s being placed on most draft boards, he could be a bit of a reach at No. 21, but not at No. 25. It really does come down to how other teams value him. There may be a safer pick at No. 21 that makes more sense, but with two picks in the first round, if GM Bill Guerin wants to take a safe pick and then swing for the fences with his second, Samoskevich is that fastball down the middle of the plate.
A Minnesota Relation
I really hate to compare a prospect to such a high-level counterpart, but Mats Zuccarello is probably the closest thing the Minnesota Wild has to his potential. While Zuccarello doesn’t quite have the wheels Samoskevich does, they see the game similarly and can break down plays and plan out what they want to do. They both have high-level — borderline elite — playmaking skills and make the players around them better.
While Samoskevich lacks the shooting ability to probably ever score 25 goals at the NHL level as the Norwegian Wizard did at his peak, if he can put it all together, Samoskevich could be something special.
This draft board isn’t a ranking, it’s just the order in which we published our draft profiles and some guys we just wanted to write about.
2021 NHL Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovenia)
- Luke Hughes — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frolunda (SHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Kent Johnson — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Mason McTavish — C/W, Peterborough Petes/EHC Olten (OHL/Swiss)
- Carson Lambos — D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
- Aatu Raty — C, Kärpät (Liiga)
- Chaz Lucius — C, USNTDP Juniors (USHL), U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
- Cole Sillinger — C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
- Sasha Pastujov — LW, U.S. National U18 team (USDP)
- Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå HF (SHL)
- Fabian Lysell — RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
- Matthew Coronato — LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)
- Oskar Olausson — F, HV71 (HockeyAllsvenskan/Swedish)
- Corson Ceulemans — D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
- Fyodor Svechkov — C, Togliatti (VHL)
- Brennan Othmann — LW, EHC Olten (SL)
- Zach Bolduc — C, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
- Xavier Bourgault — C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
- Olen Zellweger — D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
- Isak Rosén — LW/RW, Leksands IF (SHL)
- Zachary L’Heureux — C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- Nikita Chibrikov — LW/RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
- Matthew Samoskevich — C, Chicago Steel (USHL)