Future Considerations’ Finnish-based scout Marco Bombino gives his thoughts on who from the 2015 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
There were a few other Finnish players who also impressed me this past season. However, a player who particularly deserves a mention here is winger Jonne Tammela.
Tammela has some good tools that I think will make him a good pro for many years. He’s a very quick, smooth skater, both with and without the puck. He handles the puck smoothly and he’s a creative player. He also recognizes his chances well in the offensive zone. All this makes him a dangerous offensive player. Tammela isn’t necessarily a physical force on the ice, though he’s got solid work ethic and will go to the dirty areas and contribute defensively. He played for KalPa both at the U20 level and in the Liiga, where he did not look out of place at all. For me, Tammela is a prospect with significant potential and I think he has a good chance to be drafted this June.
Aleksi Saarela has been a highly-touted forward prospect for many years and looked really promising a few years back; however, many injuries have certainly affected his development.
Saarela didn’t have a really bad season in my opinion; he just couldn’t meet the expectations that were higher than with many others at the start of the season. However, Saarela did play well at the U18 World Championships in Switzerland. He showed good offensive skills, plus an excellent shot which is one of his clear strengths. He has a quick release and his shot is accurate. However, his consistency could use some work. Also, he could play with more of an edge in order to be more effective in the offensive zone. Saarela does have a chance to be drafted, but I don’t really see it happening in the first few rounds. There are too many question marks surrounding his game, though Saarela still remains a player to watch for the upcoming years.
Defenseman Niko Mikkola, who went undrafted last year after playing at the U18 level, is my choice. I saw him both with KalPa U20 and Hokki (FIN-2) and he really impressed me.
He logged some good ice-time while playing for Hokki and also played in the Liiga for KalPa. Mikkola is a tall defenseman who may be even 6-foot-5 at the moment, but he skates well considering his size. He’s mobile and skates well in all directions. He can play physically and use his size to his advantage. In addition, he’s a pretty skilled player who can both make the safe play and also contribute some more offensively. Mikkola is a solid two-way defenseman who has the potential to be an impact player at the pro level. This is a player whose draft stock has really gone upwards over the last few months. Mikkola could be drafted in the late rounds; even if he isn’t drafted he could still have a bright future ahead of him in North America.