Here’s my write-up on the Finnish U15 league, which is pretty similar to the U18 league article. The players in the league were mostly 2000 born players and I decided to include only prospects who were born that year. I didn’t see these games as much as U20, U18 and U16 league games, so this article has only players that I saw enough over the course of the season. You can find the U18 league notes from here: https://finnishjuniorhockey.com/2015/05/22/notes-from-the-finnish-u18-league/
00 F Eppu Karuvaara (Jokerit U15)
The big center has intriguing potential thanks to his mature two-way game. Skates well for his size with better-than-average acceleration and speed. Pays very close attention to detail, works well on the boards and has shown solid positioning. Very strong at face-offs and has an improving offensive skill set, including soft hands and puck protection skills.
00 F Niklas Nordgren (HIFK U15)
The right wing is one of the most purely skilled players in the age-group. He moves well laterally as well as in tight spaces, making him tough for the defensemen to handle. Makes strong decisions with the puck and finds linemates with ease. Has an extremely good slap shot for his size, he can really shoot the puck and put some power on it. He doesn’t have the best size or reach but has shown an active stick without the puck. Has been very solid, effective against 99’s and has some serious upside as a scorer.
00 F Aleks Haatanen (Blues U15)
Haatanen is a very small right wing at 5’4 whose skill level is strong. Doesn’t have the best shot but makes a lot of strong plays with the puck. Accurate, crisp passer, thus can make his linemates more ilvolved in the game. Smooth and quick skater that can avoid checks on the boards. Size doesn’t work in his favour, but given his late birthdate he could grow a lot over the next seasons. Could be more thorough with his passes at times, but there’s a nice skill set to build on.
00 F Valtteri Ojantakanen (Jokerit U15)
Another forward who shoots from right, Ojantakanen is a sniper. He can fire the puck, that’s for certain – he’s got one of best wrist shots I have seen among 2000 born Finnish prospects. He also handles the puck well; not really a playmaker compared to his goal-scoring ability but has solid passing skills. Brings some speed and energy as well. An intriguing prospect who also played with Jokerit U16 team on the same line with Karuvaara.
00 D Jami Hänninen (Jokerit U15)
Hänninen is a big right-handed defenseman who could work on his skating going forward as right now he lacks some agility and speed. However, he plays a pretty smart game so he doesn’t get forced to take many penalties. Has a heavy point shot that he can unleash in a hurry. Doesn’t take many risks with the puck and has an active stick defensively. May project better as a defensive defenseman with his frame and playing style.
00 D Jasper Rannisto (HIFK U15)
A solidly built two-way defenseman with potential at both ends. Makes nice decisions with the puck and is able to process the game well. Rannisto gets a lot of pucks through traffic from blueline. Plays physically in corners and competes in every shift. Closes gaps quickly, doesn’t give a whole lot of space for the opponents to operate. Skating is fairly good with decent mobility and backwards skating. Should be a key defenseman in the U16 league next season.
00 F Konsta Hirvonen (Blues U15)
Hirvonen is a smallish center who could become one of the most noticeable players in the age-group. Quick on his skates with strong edge work. Most effective with the puck, effective puck protection skills and that skating ability help him near the boards. Really good puck control makes him dangerous in the offensive zone. Has quick hands and above-average vision to set up chances either in the slot area or on blueline.
00 D Noel Pietilä (Blues U15)
He’s not very big, but his smarts and skating are what I think could make him a pretty special prospect. He’s really quick with above-average acceleration, both with and without the puck. Makes good pinches to keep plays alive in the offensive zone. Doesn’t have the hardest point shot, but he’s really skilled with the puck. Reliable in his own zone with ability to skate with the puck out of trouble. Pietilä is a prospect to watch as I was extremely impressed with his progress during the season.
00 F Leo Landor (TPS U15)
Landor has a knack for scoring goals as his 18 goals in 11 games at the U15 level indicate. Goes to the net with authority and doesn’t hesitate to shoot the puck. Plays very physically on the boards and throws his weight around, but could to be more disciplined at times. Fairly good passer but his playmaking is not at an elite level at this point. Jani-Petteri Ylikännö is another solid prospect who played for TPS U15, with nice puck skills and some pretty high-end vision and passing game.
Other prospects to watch (in alphabetical order):
Tom Grönblom – Defenseman (Blues U15)
Casper Hurri – Defenseman (Jokerit U15)
Juho-Veikka Kalliokoski – Defenseman (HIFK U15)
Davis Kruskops – Forward (Blues U15)
Roope Partanen – Defenseman (Jokerit U15)
Teppo Puurunen – Defenseman (K-Laser/Kärpät U15)
Samuel Salonen – Forward (Jokerit U15)
Jani-Petteri Ylikännö – Forward (TPS U15)