BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 31: Forward Andrej Kudrna #23 of Slovakia battles for the puck with forward Joel Armia #20 of Finalnd during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between Slovakia and Finland on December 31 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Weight: 191 lbs.
Team: Assat (SM-Liiga)
GP (Including playoffs): 48 | Goals: 18 | Assists: 11 | Points: 29
Midterm International CSS Rank: 2/Final Rank: 4
I am in the absolute minority in regards to Joel Armia: I am not a fan. Clearly Armia has some of the top offensive skills in the draft, given his output in a men's professional league as a 17 year old. He's also got a large frame size, though it has yet to truly fill out. So what makes me hesitate on Armia as a prospect?
Simply put, it's half intangibles and half playing style. The times I've seen him play, he switches from dangers in the offensive zone to apathetic in the defensive zone faster than Kovalchuk. That doesn't bode well for a lot of reasons.
Primarily, the simple fact that given the developing knowledge of how hockey is won (possession possession possession), Joel Armia would have to drastically change playing styles to fill this billet, or end up as a Frolov style player. Sure, a lot of players start in the offensive zone all the time, play on the powerplay, and refuse to backcheck. Those players also bleed shots against as they often find themselves out of position.
The other reason the defensive apathy looks bad on Armia is that the Flames organization has a certain reputation for hating offense first players. Can you imagine that Sutter yelling at Armia during development camps to backcheck will really make Armia want to sign an ELC with the Flames? I surely can't.
Now that I've disparaged him, what does Armia bring to the table? When I mentioned top end offense, I meant it. He has an absolutely terrific shot, beautiful puck handling skills, and an offensive awareness that's off the charts. His skating isn't great, but it's not terrible either. Here's what Corey Pronman has to say on Armia:
Joel Armia has plus puck skills and is well above-average for a 6'3", 190 lb. forward. Armia is very confident with the puck on his stick and he has good reason to be. He is able to execute above-average dekes with regularity and is very good in open ice. On more than occasion I've seen him execute a stick-handling move or a mid-distance pass through a tight space that left me saying "wow". He has an above-average shot with the ability to score from notable distances with the tool's accuracy and power
Of course, Pronman then goes on to talk pretty much about the faults I outlined above, though in far more depressing detail. If Armia could put everything together, he'd be a hell of a player. However my expectations of that are minimal, and as such, if he's available when the Flames are on the clock, I hope to hear a different name. Of course, if he were to be picked before #13, that would be a plus in so many areas.