Prospect Ramblings: 2019 Calder Class, Olli Juolevi Steps Up & Sami Niku Takes Home Hardware

Cam Robinson






Winnipeg Jets’ defensive prospect, Sami Niku was awarded the Eddie Shore Trophy earlier this week given to the AHL’s top defender. The 21-year-old tallied 16 goals and 53 points in 72 games for the Manitoba Moose and earned himself a game in the NHL at the end of the regular season.


Niku has been marinating nicely after being selected right near the end of the 2015 Entry Draft (198th overall). He was a role player on two U20 World Junior squads for the Fins and spent two more seasons in the Finnish Liiga before crossing the pond this past summer.


The Jets remain absolutely littered with young talent but most of it comes from the forward corps so Niku’s development is a real boon to the back end of the prospect pool. The smooth-skating left-shot defender offers terrific puck movement and a calm presence despite his age and relatively small experience in North America.


The seventh round pick looks like a homerun for the Jets and as Toby Enstrom heads towards free agency, he may just have a full-time spot on the Winnipeg blue line as early as next fall.


He’s one to keep an eye on in fantasy circles as his reduced pedigree will keep him under the radar a bit longer than some players, but don’t sleep too long because this Fin can play.




After going pointless in his first two SHL playoff contests, Elias Pettersson has been back to his usual dominant self. The 19-year-old offensive dynamo has four goals and nine points in his last seven games – including this tremendous effort in overtime to sweep Malmö and send Växjö to the SHL finals


{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Elias Pettersson just took his team to the SHL Finals after this overtime beauty vs Malmö. 👀 <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Canucks</a><br><br>(🎥 C More) <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) <a href="">April 8, 2018</a></blockquote>{/source}


Pettersson is now tied for second in points-per-game during the SHL post-season after leading the regular season in points and points-per-game. He’ll likely complete his season with Växjö and head to the World Championships with Sweden in May to culminate a historic draft-plus one campaign.


Next stop will be Vancouver in the fall and what appears to be a near-assured right-wing spot in the team’s top nine.


He’ll be one of the Calder favourites in what promises to be another tasty freshman crop featuring Eeli Tolvanen, Miro Heiskanen, Andrei Svechnikov, Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Mittelstadt and likely a few more