Welcome to my first ever Prospect Ramblings! I was recently promoted to Junior Associate Editor role here at DobberProspects which means this will be first of many regular ramblings from me. The idea for these ramblings came from a Twitter follower (follow me @JokkeNevalainen). I recently released my personal ranking of Swedish players in my latest SHL Report and did the same for Finnish players in my latest Liiga Report but apparently there’s a need to see those two lists mixed. Since I’m a humble servant to my readers, I decided to fulfill that request here.
I went through almost all the players already in the previously mentioned league reports, so this time I’ll focus a bit more on the top players. Without further ado, here’s my personal ranking that includes Finnish and Swedish players who played in their home country this season, split into tiers based on where I’d draft them if I was the GM of an NHL team.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C/LW
Adam Boqvist, D
Jonatan Berggren, RW
Filip Hållander, LW
Niklas Nordgren, RW
Jesse Ylönen, RW
Adam Ginning, D
Albin Eriksson, LW
Olof Lindbom, G
Oscar Bäck, C
Lenni Killinen, RW
Toni Utunen, D
David Lilja, C
Arttu Nevasaari, RW
Lukas Wernblom, LW
There’s no need to talk more about Dahlin anymore but after him I have something that could be considered a controversial decision: I’m putting forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi ahead of defenseman Adam Boqvist. I think both are excellent prospects who could go anywhere from third to tenth overall. There are a few reasons why I have them in this order. One reason is that Kotkaniemi has already played a very good season against men in Liiga which means he’s closer to playing in the NHL and there’s less risk involved. Boqvist dominated the junior league but struggled at the pro level. I’m not really concerned about that but there’s more risk involved with him because he still needs to make that jump.
I’m a big supporter of defensemen but the one position I consider to be even more important is center. Although Kotkaniemi spent the entire Liiga season playing wing, he’s proven in international tournaments that he can definitely play his natural center position and that’s the position I see him playing in the future, so that’s another positive thing going for him. Kotkaniemi also plays a more physical style and he’s better defensively whereas Boqvist is pure offense.
Where Boqvist comes out ahead is skating and offensive skills which is why I’d probably still select him ahead of Kotkaniemi in fantasy hockey drafts, although that’s entirely dependent on scoring categories. If you want high offensive upside, you should take Boqvist. If you want a safer player who will provide better peripheral stats and require less waiting time, you should definitely consider Kotkaniemi. But for real-life purposes, I’m taking the big (6-2.25, 181) Finnish center over the average-sized (5-11.5, 165) Swedish defenseman.
In my next tier, I have another Finnish center in Rasmus Kupari. I believe Kupari has more offensive talent than the players in my next tier which is why I have him slightly ahead of them. Kupari is surprisingly strong as well – he had the best bench press results at the NHL Draft Combine out of all the prospects who participated. He was also surprisingly big: 6-1.5, 189. By the way, you can find all size details from here: https://thehockeywriters.com/2018-nhl-combine-heights-weights/
The players I have in my Top 30 and Top 40 tiers were actually grouped together in my SHL Report but I decided to split them here because after thinking about it more carefully, I do see slight separation between the two groups. One thing I found interesting was that pretty much all the players who were measured at the NHL Draft Combine were slightly bigger than what I was expecting – expect maybe Isac Lundeström who at 6-0.25, 183 was right where I thought he’d be. But Jacob Olofsson (6-2.5, 189), Filip Hållander (6-1.75, 188) and Nils Lundkvist (5-11.25, 173) were all a bit bigger than what they looked like on the ice, and the same was true with Dahlin, Kotkaniemi, Boqvist and Kupari as well. I have no proper explanation for this except that maybe they’ve all still grown a bit. Lundeström is the oldest of the group and the only 1999-born out of them, so perhaps he’s done growing but others weren’t.
There were some very odd omissions from the NHL Draft Combine. The highest ranked players from my list are Jonatan Berggren, David Gustafsson and Jesse Ylönen. I honestly don’t see any of them dropping outside the top two rounds, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of them going late in the first round. But for whatever reason, they weren’t invited to the NHL Draft Combine. That could make them wildcards for the draft because NHL teams didn’t have this final chance to talk to them.
Niklas Nordgren was at the combine but he was ill and didn’t participate in anything besides body fat measurement where he had the best measured result at 3.64% (next best was 7.28%). I have no explanation for that number, it seems unreal to me. Maybe his illness somehow messed up the measurement device, I don’t know. He honestly doesn’t look like he’d be the fittest of them all.
And that’s all for now. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write in the comments below or contact me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.
All images used on the main collage courtesy of NHL.com
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