This doesn’t qualify as a daring assertion, however the way forward for hockey is vivid in Finland.
Since 2014, the Finns have received gold and silver (twice) on the World Championship, gold (thrice) on the World Junior Championship and gold (twice) and silver (twice) on the U-18 World Championship. Throw in a few 4 Nations championships and a number of high-end expertise at every age group and it’s exhausting to search out many nations with as profitable of a observe report throughout all the foremost males’s tournaments as Finland has achieved.
On the draft facet of issues, New York Rangers proper winger Kaapo Kakko is beginning to discover his manner after going No. 2 behind Jack Hughes within the 2019 NHL draft. Aatu Raty is the early favourite to go first general in 2021 and the 2022 draft might be highlighted by the arrival of Brad Lambert, who’s one of many high prospects to ever come from the nation. That’s to not ignore that Aleksander Barkov was a top-10 scorer final 12 months and that Mikko Rantanen would have joined him had a late-season harm not restricted him to 87 factors.
So it’s not a shock that, with Finland taking part in so nicely at each worldwide degree, that lots of the high European prospects within the NHL hail from the Nordic nation. The truth is, you’ll discover a slightly Northern European theme on this record of 10 prospects having a scorching begin abroad this season:
Justus Annunen, G, 19 (Colorado)Few prospects world wide have made as a lot noise this season as Annunen, a third-round choose of the Avalanche in 2018 (64th general). The large goaltender, listed at 6-foot-Four and 217 kilos, recorded the longest shutout streak in Finnish Liiga historical past at 302 minutes and 5 seconds earlier this season, beating the earlier report by about 42 minutes. With a 9-Zero-2 report with 5 shutouts and a .950 save share by 11 video games, Annunen has been almost good in his first season of Liiga motion and has merely outplayed Detroit Pink Wings prospect Patrik Rybar within the Karpat internet. Annunen might be Finland’s beginning goaltender on the World Junior Championship and is a number one candidate to win the highest goaltender award.
Petrus Palmu, LW, 22 (Vancouver)Whereas Vasily Podkolzin remains to be looking for his manner in Europe, Palmu has assumed the position of Vancouver’s most attention-grabbing prospect taking part in abroad. Since becoming a member of JYP within the Finnish Liiga this season, Palmu has put up 17 factors in 11 video games whereas skating on a line with Julius Nattinen and Jerry Turkulainen, two of the higher forwards within the league. A stable goal-scorer in junior, with a 40-goal, 98-point marketing campaign rounding out his three-year OHL profession in Owen Sound, Palmu solely had one level in 12 AHL video games final season earlier than getting shipped out to TPS for a 29-game, 18-point stint. He almost surpassed that in 18 fewer video games this season, so the sky is the restrict for the long run middle-six winger.
Santeri Virtanen, C, 20 (Winnipeg)An harm to kick off the season stored Virtanen out for a couple of month, but it surely’s been easy crusing ever since. The SaiPa winger has six factors by his first seven video games after instantly entering into a significant scoring position, closing in on his 10-point output in 40 video games as a Liiga rookie final season. Virtanen was one in every of Finland’s greatest U-20 gamers final 12 months, and whereas he seemingly got here out of nowhere earlier than the Jets picked him within the fourth spherical in 2017 (105th general), it seems to be like we nonetheless haven’t seen what Virtanen is absolutely able to.
Nils Lundkvist, D, 19 (NY Rangers)Lundkvist has been the perfect U-20 NHL-drafted prospect within the SHL with two targets and 10 factors – his eight assists are greater than every other contender has factors. A primary-round choose in 2018 (28th general), Lundkvist has spent appreciable time on Lulea’s high pairing throughout his third season with the membership, a stable feat for any U-20 defender. Lundkvist might be one in every of Sweden’s key defensemen on the World Junior Championship, and whereas he’s nonetheless just a few years away from being an NHLer, he does have top-four upside.
Ilya Sorokin, G, 24 (NY Islanders)Gee, Sorokin is close to the highest of the goaltending race within the KHL. What else is new? Via 16 video games, Sorokin’s .941 SP is nice for second amongst netminders with at the very least 10 video games performed and his 10 wins with CSKA Moscow places him seventh within the league, however second amongst goalies with fewer than 20 begins (his 4 shutouts are good for second amongst all goaltenders). Sorokin might head to North America subsequent summer season after his contract ends in April and he might instantly soar in behind veteran Semyon Varlamov and be taught the ropes from his Russian counterpart for a few years.
Kirill Kaprizov, LW, 22 (Minnesota)‘Kirill the Thrill’ introduced pleasure to Wild followers earlier this month when it was famous that he had intentions of becoming a member of the staff on the conclusion of his KHL contract this season. That’s large for a membership in determined want of assist, with Kaprizov sitting second in KHL scoring with 26 factors. Kaprizov’s 186 factors places him 10th amongst all KHLers in scoring over the previous 5 years and much past what any U-24 participant has achieved in that time-frame. His robust marketing campaign is nothing new, however there may lastly be a light-weight on the finish of the tunnel for Wild followers.
Matias Maccelli, LW, 19 (Arizona)It was instantly obvious that the Coyotes had a steal in Maccelli after they snagged him within the fourth spherical of the 2019 draft (98th general). Since June, Maccelli was one in every of Arizona’s greatest gamers on the rookie event throughout the summer season and has hovered across the point-per-game mark with Ilves within the Finnish Liiga, a giant optimistic for a 19-year-old rookie professional. He’s been a prolific point-producer all through his profession and after main all U-20 gamers with 14 factors in 15 video games, there’s not far more he can do at this level to show he’s a reputable top-six possibility for the Coyotes in a few years.
Victor Soderstrom, D, 18 (Arizona)The second Coyote to seem on this record, Soderstrom sits second behind Lundkvist for factors by a U-20 defenseman within the Swedish league and his Zero.40 points-per-game common would have been good for first in the identical age group final 12 months. With 4 factors in 10 video games, Soderstrom isn’t far off of tying his seven-point output 44 video games as a rookie final 12 months in Brynas. Arizona’s first-round choose within the 2019 draft (11th general), Soderstrom has upped his two-way play in Sweden and may play in opposition to any staff’s high line with out dropping a beat. He’s the highest prospect within the Coyotes’ system, and it won’t be lengthy till he makes the journey over to North America to showcase why that’s.
Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, 21 (Edmonton) If Puljujarvi performs one other sport within the NHL, it’s unlikely to be with the Oilers. However at the very least his commerce worth has picked up a bit due to a terrific run in Finland, with the massive winger battling for the league scoring title with 20 factors by 18 video games. Puljujarvi merely wasn’t comfy along with his restricted position on the Oilers and now that he’s trying relaxed, re-energized and on the high of his sport, it’s value a staff making a low-risk transfer to amass him. The primary-round choose in 2016 (fourth general) nonetheless has lots to supply at 21 and although he’s staying again residence for the remainder of the 12 months, it received’t be stunning if a staff picks him up quickly to keep away from his worth going up greater if he finally ends up profitable the scoring race.
Samuel Fagemo, LW, 19 (Los Angeles)Fagemo hasn’t precisely taken large steps to additional his offensive manufacturing this season, with the winger on tempo to complete close to the 25-point mark he had as a rookie final season in Frolunda. Nonetheless, Fagemo is a inventive ahead with a terrific shot, and a few nice showings with Sweden’s U-20 staff in worldwide play – highlighted by 5 targets in seven video games – has proven there’s nothing actually to fret about. Fagemo has the makings of a middle-six ahead who wants a very good setup man to get probably the most out of him, however he’s nonetheless monitoring nicely proper now.
Need extra in-depth options, evaluation and an All-Entry cross to the most recent content material? Subscribe to The Hockey Information journal.
Tags: prospectsConnect: Concerning the AuthorSteven EllisSteven Ellis is a Digital Content material Producer for The Hockey Information. He spends his free time listening to music you would not like and watches obnoxiously-long motor races.