Robin Salo was counted on in key situations in his first full Liiga season, logging nearly 21 minutes of ice-time per game. The 18-year-old rookie defenseman recorded 15 points in 54 games. Although he was left off the Finnish World Juniors team, his strong play for Sport, especially at the end of the season, warranted him a high pick in this year’s NHL Draft. He even played some strong games as a forward when Sport got into injury trouble. That tells a lot about his versatility and ability to play multiple roles. The New York Islanders selected Salo in the second round with the 46th overall pick. Overall, there was an exceptionally strong draft crop of Finnish defensemen available in the draft and Salo was the fifth Finnish defenseman selected.
As a result of the impressive past season, even more is expected from Salo now. He has already proved he is capable of handling tough minutes and playing a strong two-way game in the Liiga. I really like his intelligence and puck moving skills. He reads the game extremely well, defends well with his stick and constantly competes hard in the defensive zone. In order to improve his overall game, he will need to add more explosiveness and quickness to his skating, which is an area he must work on. The fact that he scored only one goal for Sport last season was a bit surprising. However, he does have a good point shot and can jump into the play from the blueline in a timely manner. Sport has added several promising young players, such as Chicago Blackhawks defense prospect Joni Tuulola and skilled Kärpät center Antti Kalapudas. They might surprise some people in the upcoming season, with Salo leading the way on defense.