Aatu Jämsen was one of the 17 Finnish players who heard their names called in the 2020 NHL Draft in October. The Los Angeles Kings selected the 6’2″, 157-pound forward from Pelicans U20 with the 190th overall pick. Going into the draft, he had some idea that the Kings might be the team that would pick him.
“I stayed up in the night until the Kings’ final pick, I had a hunch that they would select me, since Christian Ruuttu (Los Angeles Kings Head European Scout) had called me in the morning and asked me how I was doing.
Pelicans is currently fifth in the Finnish U20 league. The team is well on the way to reach the upper U20 league which will include the best ten teams. Jämsen says the season has started well, both for himself and the team.
“The team has picked up points well and I have been able to help in a big role. I have been able to produce very well and that has also been noted overseas because of the draft selection.”
Jämsen is currently third in the U20 league scoring with 28 points in only 16 games. He sees many reasons for his strong point production this season.
“I have been training so that I manage to play three games a week, through that I have gotten an awful lot of scoring chances. I have high confidence and I’ve found good chemistry with my linemates.”
Jämsen says that his strengths are his skating, deking, passing, hockey IQ and hands. He says an area for improvement is his shot, as he needs to improve it so that he can shoot the puck more sharply and harder. As for the upcoming few seasons, his goal is to jump into the men’s games and be a key player there.
Jämsen was named the best player of the Finnish U20 league for October. I asked him how it feels when his performances and skills have been noted this way. “The nomination did give a positive feeling and extra boost to everyday life and confidence.”
He hasn’t played for the Finnish national teams yet, but says that “it would be a really great thing to get to play at the international level. If I keep working hard, I think I’ll get the opportunity some day.”
In the NHL, there are two players who he likes to monitor in particular: Vancouver Canucks star forward Elias Pettersson and New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes, the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Away from the rink, Jämsen likes to follow different sports a lot and sometimes to play PlayStation.
His mother and father have had the biggest impact on his career. “They have supported me, given me tips, cooked and everything has been done so that I have been able to practice at the rink without any concerns.”
Considering the way Jämsen has been playing this season and his NHL Draft selection, it will be interesting to monitor his development. His game is trending up and his best hockey lies ahead.
Big thanks to Aatu for the interview and best of luck going forward!
Cover photo: Mika Kylmäniemi / Leijonat.fi