Best players in the Finnish U16 league in 2016

Here are my choices for the best players in the Finnish U16 league in this calendar year. Even though many top 2000’s are already playing in the U18’s, there’s still solid amount of talent at the U16 level too and therefore it wasn’t an easy task to pick the best players. In any case, my All Star team would be this one.

Goalie – Henrik Tikkanen (HIFK)

Tikkanen actually played for HJK before HIFK started to have some injuries and thus he got a chance to play in the U16 league. The 6’3 goalie has been stellar with save percentage of .954. He covers a ton of the net and moves well for his size. He doesn’t make many uneccessary movements and knows when to challenge shooters more aggressively. Tikkanen is able to make some great acrobatic reaction saves and has a quick glove-hand. A goalie that doesn’t quit on any play, he has plenty of untapped potential with his size, mobility and athleticism.

Defenseman – Samuel Kemppainen (Kärpät)

For me, there’s no doubt that Kemppainen has been the best defenseman in the U16 league this season. He has great offensive instincts and the ability to carry the puck up the ice. Exhibits lots of confidence in all situations and makes often heads-up passes. Able to unleash heavy one-timers or wristers from the point. Defensemen who are strong at both ends of the rink are hard to find, especially at this age, but Kemppainen is just that.

Defenseman – Jaakko Vuorinen (Tappara)

Vuorinen is the number one defenseman on this Tappara team. He’s not extremely flashy and doesn’t bring fans out of their seats often, but he moves the puck quickly forward. The righty is good at getting shots to the net and he’s a good to above-average skater. Vuorinen does not have the offensive upside or puck rushing ability of Kemppainen – he’s just a really solid defenseman with fairly good hockey IQ.

Forward – Leevi Aaltonen (KalPa)

I haven’t seen KalPa as much as I would have liked to, but Aaltonen has been so strong in my viewings that he has to be included here. He’s a year younger than the other prospects in this article, but he leads the U16 league in scoring. Aaltonen has a heavy, deceptive shot which is easily above-average. He’s got good stickhandling and passing abilities too. Good agility and edge work, but he is not noticeably fast. He will need to work on his playing away from the puck to become a more complete player.

Forward – Kalle Matikainen (Kärpät)

Matikainen is a very competitive left wing from Kärpät. He’s strong on the forecheck, gets to loose pucks first and is good at retrieving pucks back to his team. His skating is strong in a straight-line, plus he can handle the puck at full speed. Matikainen isn’t the most creative player; however, he does have decent hands and shot, plus some playmaking ability. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to the U18 league – could already have an impact next season.

Forward – Konsta Hirvonen (HIFK)

Hirvonen has been excellent for HIFK ever since his first game with the team. He possesses one of the most accurate and quick wrist shots in the league. Really good puck handling skills, particularly at full speed and in traffic areas. Center with quick acceleration and high pace to his game – gets up and down the ice well. Good competitive drive on the ice. Eligible for the 2019 draft due to his late birthday.