Liiga Report: Tappara champion, Finns ranked high for draft

by niko on May 26, 2017
  • Feature Story
  • Liiga Report: Tappara champion, Finns ranked high for draft

 

The playoffs are over and we have our Liiga champion! Tappara defeated KalPa in six games.

It was a slow start for Tappara. Actually it was so slow that they were down 0-2 before getting their first win. Once they got going, they rolled through with four wins in a row for the championship.

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Otto Koivula was named the Liiga’s Rookie of the Year. He tallied 30 points in 50 regular season games. His playoff numbers were pretty solid as well. In ten games he scored two goals and three assists. He plans to play one more year in the Liiga before heading of to North America. The Islanders havent offered him a contract yet.

His summer training starts with his Liiga team. After a couple of weeks, he heads to Turku, to train with trainer Hannu Rautala. Koivula said that he is looking forward to adding some explosiveness to his stride. Patrik Laine will attend the camp as well.

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The Dallas Stars signed forward prospect Roope Hintz to three-year entry-level contract. The dual-eligible winger scored 30 points in 44 games during the regular season. In the playoffs Hintz led the league with three goals and eleven assists in fourteen games. He is expected to play with the Texas Stars for the coming season. If he has a strong outing at the camp, he could earn himself a look with the big club.

 

The Dallas Stars hope Roope Hintz didn't use all the goals in his stick back in Finland:

 

The departure of Patrick Eaves left an opening on the Stars’ top six. Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky and Jiri Hudler are all UFAs this summer. Hintz is a profilic scoring threat and the Stars could use him, but he has had issues with concistency and intensity.

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Not many knew  Miro Aaltonen last fall. The 2013 sixth-round pick by the Anaheim Ducks started the season in the KHL. He rose to the Finnish national team this season and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 23-year old forward will be competing with a lot of players for a chance to play with the Leafs next season. Aaltonen is a small and fast playmaker who can also shoot the puck. He works hard but lacks physicality and needs to add plenty of strength.

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The Chicago Blackhawks will host the 2017 NHL Entry Draft on June 23. I keep hearing that we are spoiled with the elite and franchise level talent that has been present in the NHL’s drafts for the past couple of years and that is true. Guys like McDavid, Matthews, Laine. These young and exciting players will be the faces of an entire league for years to come.

There won’t be a talent like that available in this year’s draft. There isn’t going to be a game-changing, franchise-carrying talent, but there will be plenty of first-line forwards and top-two defensemen available. Finns playing in the North American junior leagues and the Liiga are well-represented in this year’s draft. Here is a look at Marco Bombino’s Finnish prospect rankings and Cameron Robinson’s Top 40 draft rankings.

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I’m high on Miro Heiskanen, just like Cameron. I believe he can be one of the best No. 2 defenders in the league. The Devils are going to pick Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier and I think the Flyers will follow to scoop up the one who’s left. The Stars desperately need help on their back end. Heiskanen would be a nice fit with the Stars and if they pass on him, I don’t think the Avalanche will.

Eeli Tolvanen is projected to go somewhere around the ninth pick. If Tolvanen is available for the Kings at the 11th pick, I think it would be a great fit. The Kings can’t afford to go out and sign anyone unless they manage to unload some of their contracts. Tolvanen is a sniper and the Kings need goals.

Niko Salminen