An athletic playmaking centre with good size who sees the ice well. Competes hard and is reliable defensively. Foot speed and skating need improvement at the pro level—a long-term project with limited fantasy upside.
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January 2024 -Nikkanen’s second full season in the American Hockey League with the Manitoba Moose in 2023-24 hasn’t gone well. He’s played in 21 of Manitoba’s 32 games and has failed to register a point. With the Manitoba Moose sitting in last place in the AHL’s Central Division as of January 15, playing the young Finnish forward in more games and getting more consistent minutes would only help further his development. Mark Henry
June 2023 – With an ELC with the Jets signed until the 2025 offseason, Nikkanen had a lot to prove in his first full season with the Manitoba Moose.
Statistically, not much was there, with only five goals and 16 points in 66 games played with the Moose. However, he did quite well as a shutdown player, as that was the role he was designated to play in a near fourth-line role. The upside seems to be slimming down as the seasons go along, as questions surrounding his offensive upside linger. The point totals aren’t the only issue, he has a big frame, but he doesn’t seem to be improving his skating at the rate the Jets may have hoped, as he still has a very heavy stride and seems to have concrete heavy feet at times. Defensively, he tends to do quite well and holds himself to a relatively high standard. He uses his reach well to prevent rush chances and, covers the slot well, thrives in defensive zone coverage. Still has the potential to be a good defensive fourth liner at an NHL level. Seth Ditchfield
May 2022 – Nikkanen spent his 2021/22 season with his club Pelicans in Liiga where he recorded 12 points (seven goals, five assists). Although this seems to be a step back from his previous season with 20 points in 47 games with Jukurit, a deeper dive reveals Nikkanen’s 5v5 ice time was cut by over four minutes per night, with an entire minute slashed off his powerplay opportunities. Perhaps this can be attributed to Nikkanen heading to a much improved Pelican team and the difficulty for young players to find meaningful minutes in Liiga. Despite the addition of budding star linemate Brad Lambert halfway through the season, Nikkanen’s production remained stagnant. He signed his Entry-Level-Contract on April 9th, and appeared in four games for the Manitoba Moose to end the season, but was held scoreless. He will try his luck next year in his first full season in North America, likely at the AHL level. While his quickness and skating need improvement before becoming an NHL regular, he remains a reliable center
with respectable playmaking and vision.
March 2020 – Nikkanen tore up the Jr. A league in Finland at a point per game pace this season, but his offense sputtered when he made the jump to Liiga — just three points in 27 games. At just 18, he will definitely spend more time in Finland honing his skills before he is ready to make the transition to North America. Jamie Zadow
June 2019 – Nikkanen has been drafted 113th overall by the Jets. Jokke Nevalainen
June 2019 – Nikkanen’s draft-eligible year was ruined by an injury that kept him out for a big stretch in the middle of the season. He split the time he was healthy between Liiga, Mestis and Jr. A. Nikkanen was cut from the U18 Worlds team, but one must take into consideration that he played his first games in a while in the training camp, so he was far away from peak form.
Nikkanen continues to be an intriguing prospect due to his set of desirable tools. He is a 6-foot-2 and plays down the middle. He is a very good skater for his size and has silky pair of mitts. Nikkanen’s hockey sense has been a question mark for me in the past, but despite that he could be a very good pick if the injuries make him fall too low in the draft. Lassi Alanen