2023 NHL Entry Draft: Golden Knights draft Mathieu Cataford and Arttu Kärki in third round
The Vegas Golden Knights used their two third-round picks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft to draft center Mathieu Cataford (No. 77 overall) from the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL and defenseman Arttu Kärki (No. 96 overall) from the Tappara U20 in the U20 SM-sarja league in Finland.
Mathieu Cataford, C
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Chateauguay, Quebec scored 31 goals and 75 points in 68 games with Halifax this past season and added five goals and 13 points in 21 playoff contests as Halifax fell to the eventual Memorial Cup champion Quebec Remparts.
Considered a smooth skater, Cataford sees the ice well and is not afraid to take a hit and go to the dirty areas to retrieve the puck. He’s a physical player who competes hard, especially on the forecheck, and he has good hands. He’s a very strong passer with impressive playmaking ability, but he is known for his excellent hockey sense and vision, both considered well above-average.
There isn’t a single skill missing from Mathieu Cataford’s toolkit. He can win pucks back on the forecheck, move them quickly to his teammates in the slot, drive through the hands of defenders to get to the net-front, make plays in transition, deceive opponents, and break into the offensive zone. And he can sneak in holes in the opposition’s coverage and shoot off passes.
He’s the kind of player that knows where to be on the ice, and he consistently drives to the net to take advantage of scoring opportunities once there; in fact, many of his 31 goals were scored within a few feet from the crease.
Much like the Golden Knights’ first-round pick in David Edstrom, Cataford has a solid defensive game and is projected to be a middle-six forward.
Well-rounded, hardworking forward who plays with pace. Has potential as a complementary top-six forward or strong third-liner at the NHL level.
Arttu Kärki, D
Kärki is an offensive-minded defenseman who scored 13 goals and 39 points in 36 games with Tappara U20 this past season.
The 6-foot-2, 176-pound rearguard shows great patience with the puck and is strong along the blue line. He’s known as an excellent passer and playmaker but has a great one-timer and is considered one of the best defenseman in the U20 SM-sarja league in Finland.
The native of Viiala, Finland is strong on the rush and has an ability to get pucks through traffic; he was ranked 37th on Central Scouting’s list of European skaters.
Kärki is considered a project, as there are several areas of his game that need work. One of those is his skating, as he lacks quickness; another is his defensive play, which had some scouts frustrated. However, he’s very effective in the offensive zone and uses his size to create turnovers and capitalize on ensuing chances.
If he improves his defensive game, Kärki has the potential to be a bottom-four defenseman in the NHL.
Offensive-minded defender who controls the offensive blue line with poise. Shows good mobility but needs to improve his overall pace of play in order to maximize his potential as an effective NHL puck mover.