Team: Ässät (Liiga)
Position: Center/Right Wing
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 190
REPORT: CZECH REPUBLIC @ FINLAND U20, JULY 23, 2018
It was a standout performance from Kotkaniemi, who centered Finland’s first line playing with Linus Nyman and Kaapo Kakko. His excellent hockey sense was on full display here. He made several smart, well-thought passes and found teammates with cross-ice feeds on the power play. He moved in a calculated manner: he was proactive instead of being reactive to the play. He worked hard without the puck and backchecked effectively. His already good speed appears to be improving. Look for a big season from Kotkaniemi in the Liiga, assuming he doesn’t make the NHL this year yet.
REPORT: ÄSSÄT @ HIFK (LIIGA), SEPTEMBER 26, 2017
2018 NHL Draft prospect Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been a key forward for Ässät in the early stages of the Liiga season. The 17-year-old forward was wearing the golden helmet as the team’s top point producer and played slightly over 13 minutes in a 4-1 loss to HIFK. While the team’s overall performance wasn’t great, Kotkaniemi had a solid game as a left wing and showed promise.
Kotkaniemi has very good puck handling skills. He’s a skilled, deft stickhandler who can operate with the puck in traffic and exhibited confidence while doing so in today’s game. He also displayed impressive hockey sense, making a couple of clever, instinctive passes in the offensive zone. He has good awareness of his surroundings. Possessing good agility and footwork, Kotkaniemi is mobile for a 6’2 forward, and uses long, powerful strides to hit top speed.
However, he will need to add considerable strength to be stronger on the puck. Right now Kotkaniemi can be separated rather easily off the puck. Despite of this, I was impressed with his work ethic in all three zones. He used his stick well to cut off passing lanes and he also finished some checks.