2018 NHL Draft prospect Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been a key forward for Ässät in the early stages of the Liiga season. The 17-year-old forward was wearing the golden helmet as the team’s top point producer and played slightly over 13 minutes in a 4-1 loss to HIFK. While the team’s overall performance wasn’t great, Kotkaniemi had a solid game as a left wing and showed promise.
Kotkaniemi has very good puck handling skills. He’s a skilled, deft stickhandler who can operate with the puck in traffic and exhibited confidence while doing so in today’s game. He also displayed impressive hockey sense, making a couple of clever, instinctive passes in the offensive zone. He has good awareness of his surroundings. Possessing good agility and footwork, Kotkaniemi is mobile for a 6’2 forward, and uses long, powerful strides to hit top speed.
However, he will need to add considerable strength to be stronger on the puck. Right now Kotkaniemi can be separated rather easily off the puck. Despite of this, I was impressed with his work ethic in all three zones. He used his stick well to cut off passing lanes and he also finished some checks.
by Marco Bombino