Finnish Prospects Update – Sept. 27
September 27, 2017
By Miika Arponen
Montreal Canadiens 2nd round draft pick Joni Ikonen hasn’t got his game going so far in the Finnish Liiga. Ikonen started the season as a top-6 center and had shifts with the 2nd power-play unit, but his ice time has been in steady decline.
Through seven games, Ikonen has yet to score a point. He has also recorded only three shots on goal so far. As far as advanced stats go, Ikonen is one of the worst on his team as well with Corsi-% of 45.
He has shown flashes of his skillset in his games, but he has often been outmuscled by his opponents and his skating has also been average for this level. He will need to get stronger to excel at this level.
Of other drafted prospects, the most impressive has been Vancouver Canucks 6th round pick from last summer, Petrus Palmu. The diminutive winger has scored 2G, 5A in eight games and has been getting prime minutes on his team’s first power-play unit.
Chicago’s 6th round pick from 2015, Joni Tuulola, leads the league in NHL drafted D-men scoring. He has 1G, 4A so far in seven games and seems to be finally realizing the potential he showed in the juniors.
From the three first-round picks from Liiga last year, only Kristian Vesalainen has played in Liiga so far, and has recorded two assists in five games. Miro Heiskanen (DAL) and Urho Vaakanainen (BOS) have been out due to injuries.
Minnesota’s fourth-round draft pick from 2014, goalie Kaapo Kähkönen has been on fire so far. He is 4-2-1 with .933 saving percentage and 1.80 GAA, both all league-leading statistics. He has also recorded two shutouts thus far.
The most impressive draft-eligible player in Liiga so far has been Ässät forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The centerman has scored 2G, 4A in seven games and leagues his team in points. With 6’2″/190lbs frame and above-average skating abilities, Kotkaniemi is rising steadily in the draft rankings.
The other highly touted prospect for next summer, Rasmus Kupari, has yet to record a point in Liiga through four games. He has however posted good advanced statistics and been impressive in the games he has played. In the Junior A he has so far posted 2G, 3A in seven games.
KooKoo defenceman Santeri Salmela is the third 2018 first-time draft eligible player to receive regular ice time in the highest level. He has played well, although he, too, has yet to record a point this season.
Finnish U20 league has also started. FinnProspects’ #7 ranked Lenni Killinen leads the league’s draft eligibles with 5G, 7A in ten games.
Another first-year draft eligible Arttu Nevasaari leads the league in scoring with eight goals in 11 games.
Second-year draft-eligible forward Jerry Turkulainen is starting to show that it may have been a mistake from the NHL teams to not draft him last summer. The diminutive, 5’7″/146lbs, winger has scored 2G, 5A in eight games. Being a very fast and agile skater with high hockey IQ, Turkulainen is very similar to Canucks draftee Petrus Palmu.
Of undrafted overage players the most impressive have been JYP center Antti Suomela and TPS winger Jasper Lindsten.
23-year-old Suomela is third in the league scoring with 3G, 6A in eight games and has shown very good two-way game with abilities to play in every situation.
Lindsten, also 23 years old, has been playing with NHL veterans Eric Perrin and Tomi Kallio and is on a point per game pace with 4G, 4A in eight games so far. Lindsten is a highly intelligent player with very soft hands, and could be an intriguing option for NHL teams in next year’s free agency.
Goalie Emil Larmi has also been on fire lately. 20-year-old HPK netminder has posted stellar numbers with .952 SV% and 1.39 GAA.
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