Our annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown has begun! The rankings were determined by a combination of reader voting and our staff’s own voting. We then combined the reader rankings (50%) and the staff rankings (50%) to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 5, 2017, when the 2017-18 NHL season begins.
We’re taking a look at the best and the brightest in the Los Angeles Kings organization in our fifth annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown. Coming in at #22: Matt Luff.
2016-17 Team: Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL); Ontario Reign (AHL)
2016-17 Statistics: 45 GP, 24 G, 25 A, 49 P (OHL); 2 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P (AHL)
Current NHL Projection (via NHLe): 82 GP, 13 G, 14 A, 27 P
Jewels Reader Ranking: 24
Jewels Staff Ranking: 15
As far as undrafted players go, you can do a lot worse than Matt Luff. After a lackluster draft year with Belleville in the OHL (only 9 goals and 31 points in 64 games), Luff broke out the next year with Hamilton, with 27 goals and 57 points in 61 games. While this didn’t get him drafted, it did get him an invitation to the Kings summer development camp. From there, he did enough to earn an invite to rookie camp that fall, and an entry-level contract from the Kings.
So what does Luff bring to the table? A pretty solid skillset and production for his size. In 45 games last year, he picked up 25 goals and 49 points in 45 OHL regular season, followed by 4 goals and 9 points in 7 playoff games. He even played two AHL games with the Reign, and picked up his first pro point. Luff’s primary strengths are his size, as he checks in at 6’3” and around 200 pounds, and his heavy, accurate shot.
From there, he is a bit of a work in progress. While his shot is good, he tends to shoot mostly from outside, only picking up 45 scoring chances in 45 games last year (per prospect-stats.com). Even worse, his goals and scoring chances have decreased from 2015/16 (17 goals on 70 scoring chances at 5v5, for 46.4% of total 5v5 shots were scoring chances) to 2016/17 (10 goals on 34 scoring chances at 5v5, 26.8% of total 5v5 shots were scoring chances).
Luff also needs to work on using his size more to his advantage. While he is 6’3” tall, he needs to fill out his frame more to be able to bang around the net and in the corners if he’s going to make any kind of showing at the NHL level. Further, he’s got a bit of a lumbering stride that he could tighten up and improve. If that sounds overly negative, it shouldn’t be! Luff is an undrafted OHL player, and those issues are all things that can be improved if a player is willing to put in the work. Luff appears up to the task, as he’s spending this offseason training with some half-decent talent.
Where Luff ends up for the coming season still appears to be up in the air. Luff is currently with his OHL squad from last year, but will be heading to training camp with the Kings, hoping to earn a spot on the Reign. However, even with the injury to Austin Wagner, Luff could end up back in the OHL again as an over-ager. No matter where he ends up, Luff will need to continue to improve the lackluster elements of his game, hopefully providing more big nights and highlights like his hat trick and four point night against Kitchener.