Photo courtesy of Iltalehti.fi

Fantasy Summary

Complementary forward with middle-six upside. Has played center in junior but projects to be a winger at the pro level.


Observations

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June 2019 – Saarela has been drafted 123rd overall by the Blackhawks.  Jokke Nevalainen

June 2019 – Saarela was officially measured at 5-foot-11.75 and 190 pounds at the NHL Draft Combine.  Jokke Nevalainen

March 2019 – Saarela started this season in Jr. A SM-liiga which is the top junior level in Finland. While there, he put up seven goals and 15 points in 21 games. After that time, he’s been mostly playing at the top level in Liiga where he’s put up two goals and 10 points in 23 games. Saarela’s production in Liiga is very impressive but he’s also received great usage which has allowed him to produce points alongside talented players. Saarela comes from a true hockey family as his father Pasi was a long-time pro player and a local legend with Lukko which is probably partly why Antti has received such a great opportunity there as well. And Antti’s older brother Aleksi was drafted by the Rangers and is currently playing in Carolina’s system. The younger Saarela has also played 11 games with Finland’s U18 team and scored six points there. He’s expected to play an important role for Finland at the U18 Worlds.

Saarela has played center in junior but has been used purely as a winger at the pro level. His game is better suited for the wing, so I would expect him to stay there. He’s not big (5-11, 176) but he plays a fearless style of game and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty. Saarela is a great skater who can create offensive opportunities because of his speed but his acceleration and agility are also great. His puck-skills are very good which makes him very dangerous in one-on-one situations. He also has a good shot. His playmaking skills are decent but he’s more of a complementary player than someone who drives the offense. He plays a reliable defensive game as well. Besides skating, his tools don’t appear to be high-end which is why he projects to become a complementary third-line winger. Saarela is likely going to be drafted in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.  Jokke Nevalainen

Attributes
Fantasy Upside 6.0
NHL Certainty 5.5
Country FIN
Position RW
Roster Type System
Shoot/Glove Left
Date of Birth June 27, 2001
Height 6‘0”
Weight 190 lbs
Drafted 2019 Round 4; Overall: 123

Stats

 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2015-2016 Lukko U16U16 SM-sarja Q12 7 1522 14|        
  Lukko U16U16 SM-sarja26 20 1535 24|Playoffs6 8 210
 2016-2017 Lukko U16U16 SM-sarja Q1 3 14 0|        
  Lukko U18U18 SM-sarja34 5 1520 40|        
  Finland U16 (all)International-Jr9 5 38 6|        
 2017-2018 Lukko U18U18 SM-sarja5 2 46 4|Playoffs3 0 22
  Lukko U20U20 SM-sarja25 6 915 6|        
  LukkoLiiga1 0 00 0|        
  Finland U17WHC-175 2 24 4|        
  Finland U17 (all)International-Jr16 6 814 26|        
 2018-2019 Lukko U20U20 SM-sarja21 7 815 32|        
  LukkoLiiga24 2 810 20|Playoffs4 0 00
  Finland U18WJC-185 1 23 6|        
  Finland U18 (all)International-Jr19 5 49 39|        
  Finland U18Hlinka Gretzky Cup3 0 00 2|        
 2019-2020 IlvesLiiga40 4 812 12|        
  Finland U20WJC-207 0 00 6|        
  Finland U20 (all)International-Jr16 0 22 12|        
 2020-2021 IlvesLiiga- - -- -|        

Highlights