Nevalainen: Top 25 Finns for the 2019 NHL Draft

by Jokke Nevalainen on May 27, 2019

 

Since I live in Finland and follow the Finnish prospects more closely than any others, I decided to publish my top 25 ranking of Finnish prospects for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

 

If you want a complete ranking including all nationalities, here’s the latest from our managing editor Cam Robinson: Cam Robinson’s 2019 NHL Draft Rankings – April 2019.

 

I wrote a short summary of the player and also included some player details like league, team, date of birth and size because I’m sure most readers aren’t familiar with most of the players on my list. If you want more information about them, you can open their profiles by clicking on their names. Not everyone has a profile available yet but those who do should be easy to notice.

 

I also included a range where I would feel comfortable drafting them. Please notice that this is my personal ranking, not a mock draft. It is very unlikely they get drafted in this exact order.

 

“How many of these guys are fantasy relevant?” is a question I hear often but the answer to that depends on the depth of your league. The answer could be one, four, ten or even 20. That is why I’m hoping all the information I provided helps you make that decision based the details of your league.

 

Without further ado, let’s get to the actual ranking.

 

  1. Kaapo Kakko, RW – Liiga (TPS) – 2001-02-13 – 6’2″, 181 lbs – Top 2 pick

 

Obviously the top Finn this year, will go either first or second overall. Upside to be a franchise player. Calder Trophy candidate next season.

 

  1. Ville Heinola, LD – Liiga (Lukko) – 2001-03-02 – 5’11”, 176 lbs – Mid-1st round range

 

I think Heinola is the top Finnish defenseman this year by a good margin, and I like him somewhere after the top-12 is gone. Isn’t NHL ready right away but has high potential as an offensive defenseman.

 

>> Prospect Deep Dive: Ville Heinola <<

 

  1. Patrik Puistola, LW – Mestis (LeKi) – 2001-01-11 – 6’0″, 174 lbs – Late 1st round range

 

Puistola has flown under the radar a bit but he had a great season in Mestis. His great performance at the U18 Worlds pushed him from early second to late first on my board. Upside to be a scoring winger in the top six.

 

  1. Lassi Thomson, RD – WHL (Kelowna) – 2000-09-24 – 6’0″, 187 lbs – Early 2nd round range

 

Thomson had a very good season in the WHL and will return to Finland for next season to play pro hockey. He’s an offensive defenseman with average size. There’s some risk with him but he offers good upside.

 

  1. Mikko Kokkonen, LD – Liiga (Jukurit) – 2001-01-18 – 5’11”, 190 lbs – Early 2nd round range

 

Kokkonen had a great season in Liiga but his game doesn’t have a ton of upside. His bad performance at the U18 Worlds pushed him from late first to early second on my board. Upside to be a fine number four defenseman.

 

  1. Antti Tuomisto, RD – Jr. A SM-liiga (Ässät) – 2001-01-20 – 6’3″, 176 lbs – Mid-2nd round range

 

Tuomisto is underrated because he only played in the Finnish junior league but that’s only because he’s going to NCAA. He has a lot of raw potential but requires time and patience. Middle-pair upside.

 

  1. Anttoni Honka, RD – Mestis (KeuPa) – 2000-10-05 – 5’10”, 176 lbs – Mid-2nd round range

 

Honka is an undersized offensive defenseman and a very risky prospect but his offensive upside is massive. His potential is too good to pass up after the top 40 or so players have been taken. Lots of red flags, though.

 

>> Prospect Deep Dive: The Curious Case of Anttoni Honka <<

 

  1. Tuukka Tieksola, RW – Jr. A SM-liiga (Kärpät) – 2001-06-22 – 5’10”, 157 lbs – Late 2nd round range

 

Tieksola requires time and patience but he has massive offensive upside as a playmaking winger. If he can get stronger and adjust to pro level, someone could get a massive steal – especially if he slips past the second round.

 

  1. Henri Nikkanen, LC – Jr. A SM-liiga (Jukurit) – 2001-04-28 – 6’2″, 181 lbs – Early 3rd round range

 

Nikkanen had a horrible season but it was mostly because of injuries which are a major concern. A year ago, he was considered a potential first round pick. He has too much potential to pass up after the second round.

 

  1. Matias Maccelli, LW – USHL (Dubuque) – 2000-10-14 – 5’11”, 170 lbs – Early 3rd round range

 

Maccelli had a great season in the USHL and will return to Finland for next season (to the same team with Thomson). Upside to be a scoring winger in the NHL but has some red flags. Next season will be massive for him.

 

  1. Leevi Aaltonen, LW – Jr. A SM-liiga (KalPa) – 2001-01-24 – 5’9″, 168 lbs – Mid-3rd round range

 

Aaltonen has been a top player in his age group for a long time but his development curve has slowed down the past year or two. There’s a lot to like but his upside doesn’t appear to be as high as previously expected.

 

  1. Antti Saarela, RW – Liiga (Lukko) – 2001-06-27 – 5’11”, 176 lbs – Late 3rd round range

 

Saarela had an impressive season with Lukko in the Liiga but he’s a complementary player more than anything else. Those types of players have some value but less than the ones who can drive the play. Funnily enough, Saarela will also play on the same Ilves team with Thomson and Maccelli next season.

 

  1. Kim Nousiainen, LD – Jr. A SM-liiga (KalPa) – 2000-11-14 – 5’9″, 170 lbs – 4th round range

 

Nousiainen is an undersized offensive defenseman with high offensive upside but there’s a lot of risk as well. A lot of boom or bust potential. If he can put it all together, he could be a great sleeper.

 

  1. Kalle Loponen, RD – Mestis (Hermes) – 2001-03-13 – 5’11”, 187 lbs – 4th round range

 

Loponen is an offensive defenseman who had a good season in Mestis. He’s a good skater and has a bomb of a shot but it remains to be seen if his tools are good enough to play in the NHL.

 

  1. Marcus Kallionkieli, LW – USHL (Sioux City) – 2001-03-20 – 6’1″, 176 lbs – 4th round range

 

Kallionkieli is a good goal-scorer but his game is a bit too one-dimensional. If he can round out his game, there’s potential to become a scoring winger. But at this point, that looks unlikely.

 

  1. Kristian Tanus, LC – Mestis (LeKi) – 2000-08-17 – 5’8″, 159 lbs – 4th round range

 

Tanus went undrafted last summer but had a massive season in Mestis and showed some great flashes in Liiga as well. Small and not a great skater but very smart. A playmaker at heart but has improved his shot considerably.

 

>> Prospect Deep Dive: Kristian Tanus <<

 

  1. Juuso Pärssinen, LC – Jr. A SM-liiga (TPS) – 2001-02-01 – 6’2″, 181 lbs – 5th round range

 

Pärssinen is a very good two-way center with great size but doesn’t have a lot of offensive upside. It’s pretty easy to see him becoming a bottom-six center at the NHL level, though.

 

  1. Aleks Haatanen, LW – Jr. A SM-liiga (Pelicans) – 2000-11-16 – 5’9″, 179 lbs – 5th round range

 

Haatanen is undersized but has excellent offensive tools. There are some concerns about his ability to play a team game but his offensive upside is worth a late round gamble. Boom or bust potential.

 

  1. Matias Mäntykivi, LC – Jr. A SM-liiga (SaiPa) – 2001-06-21 – 5’11”, 159 lbs – 5th round range

 

Mäntykivi is another potential late round sleeper. He had a great season in the junior league and also played well on the Mestis championship team. Didn’t get a chance to play at the U18 Worlds, though.

 

  1. Lassi Lehtinen, G – Liiga (Lukko) – 1999-02-25 – 6’0″, 176 lbs – 6th round range

 

Lehtinen has gone undrafted twice already but his results have been great at every level. He’s slightly undersized but was Lukko’s number one goalie this season in the Liiga.

 

  1. Iivari Räsänen, LD – Jr. A SM-liiga (Tappara) – 2001-07-05 – 6’0″, 205 lbs – 6th round range

 

Räsänen is a two-way defenseman with no real standout skills. Physically very mature and plays a mature game. Could become a reliable bottom-pair guy but isn’t a flashy player by any means.

 

  1. Aku Räty, RW – Jr. A SM-liiga (Kärpät) – 2001-05-23 – 6’0″, 170 lbs – 6th round range

 

Räty is a two-way winger who does everything well but doesn’t have standout skills. He’ll be a pro player but it remains to be seen if his skills are good enough for the NHL. Bottom-six upside.

 

  1. Santeri Hatakka, LD – Jr. A SM-liiga (Jokerit) – 2001-01-15 – 6’0″, 174 lbs – 7th round range

 

Hatakka is a reliable defensive defenseman with some offensive skills but doesn’t project to be more than a bottom-pair guy at best. Hatakka will also join Thomson, Maccelli and Saarela on the Ilves squad in the Liiga next season.

 

  1. Aarne Intonen, LC – Jr. A SM-liiga (TPS) – 2001-07-17 – 5’11”, 181 lbs – 7th round range

 

Intonen is a reliable forward who can play all positions and can be used in any situation but may not have enough skill to play in the NHL. Potential bottom-six forward at best.

 

  1. Roope Taponen, G – Jr. A SM-liiga (HIFK) – 2001-03-14 – 6’0″, 165 lbs – 7th round range

 

Taponen has average size and pretty average results as well. He’s worth a late round flyer but likely never reaches the NHL level.

 

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And that’s all for now, thanks for reading. Feel free to add comments below. Remember to follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.

 

 

Images used in the main picture courtesy of Liiga.fi