Prospect Notes: TPS Turku U21-Jukurit U21 (Mar. 9, 2020)
Steve Kournianos | 3/11/2020 | Nashville |
NASHVILLE (The Draft Analyst) — The postseason for European hockey circuits are upon us, which means dozens of draft-eligible prospects are playing in the most important games in league play to date. Such was the case on Monday in Finland’s under-21 Nuorten SM-Liiga when host TPS Turku played the deciding game of the first round with Jukurit. The game was so important that both squads summoned regulars from their respective parent clubs, with Toronto draftee Mikko Kokkonen and Jets’ center prospects Henri Nikkanen available for Jukurit, and wingers Markus Nurmi (Senators) and Lauri Pajuniemi (Rangers) for TPS among those headlining the call ups. TPS defenseman Eemil Viro, a coveted 2020 draft prospect, also took part after spending most of the season with the men’s team. In the end, it was TPS moving on with a 2-1 victory in what was a very competitive and tense affair that didn’t see a goal scored until late in the second period.
#44 RW Axel Rindell (2020 Draft — 4/23/00 — 5’10, 174 — Shoots Right) – played entire game on wing — shoots any chance he gets – good accurate shot off the pass – definitely a shoot-first defender when he plays on the blue line; same goes for this game on the wing – made a clean entry with speed during a second-period power play where he cut inside and set up a high-danger scoring chance near the goal – has enough qualities of a forward to play there permanently – still on the fence which position he’s better suited for – very strong balance and can absorb a hit and keep motoring – sneaks into openings with regularity – confident player with puck and doesn’t treat it like a hot potato
#10 LHD Mikko Kokkonen (TOR 3rd/2019) – quick wrister off the pass — very aggressive in taking puck below dots – willing to be a backdoor option – very good slot coverage and will fight opponent for positioning – quick reflexes and active stick to break up plays before they can materialize – good backskater and closes gap quickly – holds line but not overly physical — solid footwork to handle opponent’s cutbacks and directional changes — played on PK1 and PP2 — handles tough passes with ease on forehand and backhand — tight-quarter quickness and agility to avoid pressure — buys his own time and space — smart player
*Jukurit wore yellow jerseys with light numbers which made it difficult to identify players. Hence, only two players were evaluated.
#48 LW Lauri Pajuniemi (NYR 5th/2018)– on top line and aggressive on the forecheck – right shot plays left wing again — finished hits – has an edge to his game from a pest standpoint – slapper is accurate with big windup but powers it through tight windows – shots always seem to end up on net and through cleanly – anticipates plays well and takes direct routes to cut off entry attempts before they reach the grey zone – strong balance and agility in tight spaces – drew a penalty during 4-on-4 by making a quick inside move near the boards towards the net – loves that one-timer from the left circle – very quick to the puck and excellent anticipation – soft hands and can instantly settle the puck off his own blocked shot – very good vision and will look off the net for seam passes – nice touch on passes forehand and backhand – aware positionally and keeps track of puck travel – loves to shoot from anywhere and from either wing – timely drop pass on entry on PP – rarely turns down the chance to shoot – very strong compete level and will hustle and chase pucks late in shifts – very good speed and a wide base – strong on his edges and cuts back with quickness – had a break-in chance off an errant dump-in early in the third period but it was stopped – very energetic and all over the ice but in a good way – turns quickly and in the right direction – super quick to the puck but doesn’t bend under pressure – plays fearless and will go full throttle towards the wall for a loose puck – always looking to shoot from anywhere – demands the puck but not in a selfish way – bails out his line a lot when it comes to maintaining possession and creating the best shot possible –
Here is Lauri Pajuniemi’s best chance in yesterday’s 2-1 win over Jukurit. Finished with seven shots while playing on the top line. It was his first Jr. A SM-Liiga game since the 2017-18 season.#PlayLikeANewYorkerpic.twitter.com/ovlWFKlfxC
#5 LHD Eemil Viro (2020 Draft — 4/3/02 — 6’0, 165 — Shoots Left) – paired with #33 Valtteri Pulli – middle pairing – very active on pinches and always looking to step up or keep plays alive – precision timing and strong backskater to retreat with tight gap – rarely looks intimidated by onrushing speed – handles all kinds of passes cleanly even on his backhand or across his body – Viro will chip and chase to himself – controlled entries and will enter the zone looking for a shot of his own even if of the low-danger variety – not much of a playmaker and his tunnel vision with the puck leads to effective but limited decisions – very sound instincts in the offensive zone and will pounce on loose pucks and take the puck around the net or look for a give and go in the low slot – passes into traffic a lot but when he does the passes usually are hard and not a careless lob to be intercepted for a quick counterattack – wide but powerful stride – missed a good chunk of first half of 3rd period and don’t know why – used mostly for defensive-zone draws in 3rd – very quick and a pleasure to watch skating – was on the ice with Pulli when it was 6-on-5 and they were excellent in terms of slot coverage, plugging gaps, and marking threats — plays his 3-on-2’s and 2-on-1’s but staying centered and not cheating until the last second – sometimes will take a gamble and go down to get in the way of a pass or shot but normally plays it cool – zero power-play time
#42 LHD Aleksi Anttalainen (2020 Draft, 1999) – very mobile and agile – covers a lot of ground – strong skater in all directions – delivers big hits – very confident puck carrier and likes to involve himself in the attack – can breakout with his speed and take the puck deep — Very active and mobile — likes to join the rush and fill in gaps — will drop down and fire an accurate shot on goal — hard, accurate passer, especially off his back foot across the neutral zone — shifty — strong edges – shoot-first mentality – wired home a hard wrister during a 4-on-4 to break the 0-0 tie in the second period
#33 LHD Valtteri Pulli (2020 Draft — 3/13/01, 6’6 207 – Shoots Left) – paired with Viro – confident with puck and didn’t always defer to his partner – was willing to sneak below faceoff dots – very good skater for his size and covers a lot of ground after only a few strides – will take the puck into the zone with speed and confidence – not shy about venturing deep into the offensive zone and taking puck behind the net – strong edges and can outpace forecheckers up ice – was cleaning up low slot and pounced on pucks in the corners while defending 6-on-5
#74 C Aarne Intonen (2020 Draft — 7-17-01 — 5’11, 181 — Shoots Left) — 28 pts in 33 games — earned a 14-game promotion from SM-Liiga with two assists — On both 2020 U20 4N, 2019 U18 Hlinka and WC, and 2018 U17 squads — PK1 – tricky player and delays on entries – uses screens well and can wire a shot off a toe-drag to the inside – defensively responsible and will cover the low slot and tie up his man – doesn’t vacate danger areas in his own end unless support communicates a switch – soft hands – crafty and will go the net with confidence but also change direction rapidly if necessary – very quick stick and loots defenders in one-on-one battles — tough competitor — lived up to billing as top-six player and was leaned on — sound decision maker
#83 RW Topias Kaski (2020 Draft — 3/14/02 — 5’11, 163 — Shoots Right) — 9g and 4a in 34 games — played at U18 5N — played left wing as right shot — high motor — fast skater with quick bursts and sharp turns — Cuts inside and looks for slot while moving at top speed — strong on puck in open ice but gets shoved off balance easily along the boards — very energetic — like his hands and stickhandling in traffic – always tracking puck and will put his head down and dart across the ice to apply pressure — good role player — didn’t play on PK but defensively responsible and avoids floating away from area of responsibility unless necessary — pressures the heck out of the points and makes defenders rush — good endurance — strong efforts late in shifts — wasn’t used on PP
#10 RW Eetu Liukas (2021 Draft) — power winger — PK1 – too strong for his own good – very physical but negated a third-period PP with a 1-0 lead. Early into the PP held a guy near the boards — lumbering skater but moves well after a few strides — big but good motor and effort — horse along the boards and draws a lot of double teams — very good PK’er — big physical forward — finishes checks with authority — plays with snarl and won’t back down from a challenge — abrasive and looks for easy prey in the neutral zone —