BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 31: Forward Miikka Salomaki #11 of Finland skates with the puck as fprward Oliver Jokel #11 of Slovakia chases him 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)
The second Finn we'll take a look at approaching the NHL Entry draft is Miikka Salomaki. While highly ranked by the CSS, Salomaki is not much of a first round talent and is more likely to be a player who could fall to the Flames in the second round. At both average height and average weight, Salomaki also projects to be a completely average player on the skill side of things.
So what makes him worth a second round pick? He doesn't have great counting numbers, even considering he's a young man in a pro league. Nor is he particularly big or fast, good with the puck, or skilled at shooting.
The fact is, he's incredibly solid on defense. He has a decent awareness of the puck and its location and doesn't tire out on the backcheck. I'll let Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus explain some more.
Salomaki thinks the game at a solid level and regularly makes good decisions. His work in his own zone is impressive, with good stick work blocking lanes and forcing bad plays. He engages well along the wall and has an impressive work ethic towards the physical game, although he likely has a ceiling of fringe-average with the tool and his frame still has a good ways to fill out
Should the Flames draft him? I'd argue no. There's not a whole lot of room for defensive forwards in the system with Patrick Holland and and a bevy of other bottom six type guys filling out the team. Could Salomaki turn out to be a good pick up for a team lacking those qualties? Absolutely. Young players who are defensively responsible are a rarity, though lord knows that doesn't always translate to the NHL level.