Mestis: KOOVEE Prospect Watch

Jani NymanKOOVEE (Mestis)RWL6’3″20720042022 NHL Draft eligible

Nyman leads KOOVEE in scoring with a 10-9-19 line in 20 games. The 17-year-old winger has excelled in his rookie season and has been rewarded with lots of ice-time. He is a dangerous offensive weapon for KOOVEE and an exciting player to watch. He is notably patient with the puck in the offensive zone and likes to cut into the middle before releasing the puck quickly and precisely from his stick. His one-timer is a threat on the power play and he can also finish from close range. He is a natural goal-scorer. He generates zone entries, his stickhandling is deceptive and he can skate fast with the puck. He has a good first touch and I like his ability to handle bouncing pucks and poor passes with ease. What’s more, he has a high work rate, creates good pressure on the backcheck and is a willing shot blocker. He is able to react to different situations and adjust his play correctly. Nyman is a very good prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft with legitimate first round potential in my opinion.

Nikolai HakalaKOOVEE (Mestis)CL6’6″22520032022 NHL Draft eligible

Hakala has shown promise in the juniors over the last few seasons and has appeared in 20 Mestis games this season, recording two goals and four assists. The big 6’6″ center is still quite raw but there are certain elements to his game that I like quite a bit. He has a very long reach and uses a good defensive stick to steal pucks from opponents. He goes to the net and does a good job of screening goalies and taking away their sight of the puck. Hakala plays a fairly low risk game and does not try to do too much. He is able to use his long stick as leverage and protect the puck for extended periods. He will need to improve his skating and mobility which have been exposed from time to time. His posture could be better as he tends to move upright. Hakala went undrafted last year and I think he’s still very much a long shot to be selected, but if he improves his skating and reliability on the defensive side of the puck, he could earn a long look from some NHL teams in the future.

Karri AhoKOOVEE (Mestis)DL6’1″18520022022 NHL Draft eligible

Aho has split the season between Mestis, Liiga and the U20 SM-sarja. He has logged quality minutes with KOOVEE this season, averaging 21:52 of ice-time per game. He also recorded two assists in his lone appearance with Team Finland at the World Juniors. He is a smooth skating, mobile defenseman with a solid first two-step acceleration and he gets up to speed quickly. He can carry the puck from his own end, maneuver through traffic and deliver accurate passes on both sides of his blade. He does not lack confidence in possession. His defensive zone coverage can be a little sloppy at times, but I would not consider it an issue for the most part. He can use his stick to end the cycle and play with toughness in one-on-one situations. I have been monitoring Aho’s development for a few years and I feel he’s ready to take his talents to the Liiga in a more prominent role next season.

Joona KorhonenKOOVEE (Mestis)LWL6’1″18520032022 NHL Draft eligible

Korhonen is a solid skater with good mobility and a fluid, albeit short stride. He uses crossovers to accelerate up the ice and brings quite a bit of energy and pace to the ice. The puck doesn’t slow him down and he is equipped with quick hands. He has showcased flashes of really good playmaking and he can set up his teammates for scoring chances. He’s a skilled, savvy and accurate passer, he can sauce it and connect with his teammates in high percentage scoring areas. On the downside, I have seen some defensive inconsistencies at the Mestis level. Korhonen also needs to add more of a physical presence to his game.

Cover photo: Jarno Hietanen /