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BSH 2018 Community Draft Board, No. 10: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

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The Finnish forward finally ends the run of defensemen.

Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

We’re getting closer and closer to the Flyers’ pick at 14. For now though, Finnish forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi joins the board.

BSH 2018 Community Draft Board, No. 10: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Position / Team: C / Assat, (Liiga)
2017-18 Statistics: 10 G, 19 A in 57 GP
Size: 6’2” 190

Pre-draft rankings

No. 6 (Euro Skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 13 by Future Considerations
No. 16 by ISS Hockey
No. 4 by Pronman/The Athletic (Final)

What’s there to like?

Kotkaniemi is quite possibly one of the more underrated prospects in this draft class. I’m usually not all that big into player comparisons, but this guy compares a lot to Sean Couturier. His hockey IQ is off the charts, seeming to always make those little plays that don’t always show up on the score sheet. His skating won’t blow you away by any means, but it’s certainly not a hindrance to his game. He’s got a plus shot when he uses it, but he’ll most likely be a playmaker for the team that gets him. His 6’2” frame already allows him to be a beast in the corners, digging pucks free and setting up the offense from the boards.

He’s also played in the top Finnish league already for a full season, which should give him a slight advantage in preparation for NHL competition. His 29 points are fairly impressive for a 17 year old in his first year of professional play. He also has the potential to be a top notch defensive forward. He started the shorthanded breakaway that lead to him assisting on the game winning goal for Finland at the U18 World Junior Championships. While he’s not a stud defensively yet, the hockey sense and frame are already all there.

He scored nine points in seven games at the tournament.

What’s not to like?

The major knock on Kotkaniemi is of course his skating. As I said previously, it doesn’t project to hold him back by any means but it is something other forwards have an edge over him in. If he can improve his skating however, he could be an absolute steal for a team at No. 10.

How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?

He would easily be right there with Morgan Frost in competition for the best center prospect in the organization. I think I’d have to give the edge to Frost at the moment but it would be more of a 1A:1B situation than a 1,2 deal. Kotkaniemi’s edge would of course be his pro experience already, plus his name. I mean come on how fun is “Kotkaniemi” to say?

Could the Flyers actually get him?

If he drops a bit, quite possibly! With the apparent need for defense among the top 10, all the Flyers would really need is three teams to pass up on him assuming he makes it to 11. I’m not going to get my hopes up due to the fact I feel like it’s only a matter of time before he begins to climb draft ranks, but anything’s possible.

Additional reading

2018 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Mile High Hockey)

The Finnish player is a goal-scorer, a playmaker, a powerplay quarterback and a penalty killer. We say all the time that players can perform in “all situations”, but that is particularly true about Kotkaniemi. When it comes to scoring goals, his quick release is his greatest attribute. Not unlike Auston Matthews, he has the ability to carry the puck into unlikely scoring areas, and then beat the unsuspecting goalie with a quick wrist shot.

2018 NHL Draft Profile: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Fear The Fin)

This season, Kotkaniemi is scoring .46 points per game in the Finnish Liiga, as a 17-year-old playing against men. That number makes him the 16th-highest U18 scorer in the Liiga, all time. If you remove the four players who only played in a handful of games, he moves up to 12th place in that category. That’s pretty impressive, even if his production isn’t quite in the league of superstars near the top of the list.


Going to continue to add two to the list as we get further in the countdown. Welcome to the poll, Rasmus Kupari and Akil Thomas

Rasmus Kupari — C, Karpat (Liiga) — 6 G, 8 A in 39 GP

Kupari is a dynamic player whose dynamic play isn’t always visible. Is that because he’s on such a good team though? After the year Vegas had, it’d be silly to overlook what a difference giving players an opportunity to succeed is. What he accomplished in his limited role in the Liiga is still impressive. That’s why he’s been the source of some debate among draft observers; he hasn’t underperformed (on the contrary), but there’s been less of his performance to evaluate, which is critical for a player who Corey Pronman has said looks like a top 10 pick at times.

— via Defending Big D

Akil Thomas — C, Niagara (OHL) — 22 G, 59 A in 68 GP

Most scouts will describe Thomas as a two-way center - though he’s going to have to get a lot stronger if he expects to stick at that position in the NHL. He is used in all situations, but he is most dangerous on the power play thanks to his keen vision and ability to get shots through traffic. He’s a decent penalty killer that uses his speed and anticipation to break up plays and make the opposing powerplay uncomfortable.

— via Mile High Hockey


2018 BSH Community Draft Board

  1. Rasmus Dahlin — D, Frolunda (SHL) (no vote)
  2. Andrei Svechnikov -- RW, Barrie (OHL) (60% of the vote)
  3. Filip Zadina — LW, Halifax (QMJHL) (74%)
  4. Brady Tkachuk — LW, Boston University (NCAA) (57%)
  5. Oliver Wahlstrom — C/RW, USNTDP (USHL) (40%)
  6. Quinn Hughes — D, Michigan University (NCAA) (50%)
  7. Adam Boqvist — D, Brynas IF (SHL) (42%)
  8. Evan Bouchard — D, London (OHL) (49%)
  9. Noah Dobson — D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) (50%)
  10. Jesperi Kotkaniemi — C, Assat (Liiga) (34%)

***

Please use your vote below to answer the following question: If all of the players listed were available when the Flyers were on the clock, who would you want them to pick?

Poll

Who should be No. 11 on the 2018 BSH Community Draft Board?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Joel Farabee
    (66 votes)
  • 8%
    Ty Smith
    (20 votes)
  • 37%
    Joseph Veleno
    (85 votes)
  • 9%
    Barrett Hayton
    (21 votes)
  • 3%
    Isac Lundestrom
    (7 votes)
  • 9%
    Rasmus Kupari
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    Akil Thomas
    (6 votes)
226 votes total Vote Now