The Montreal Canadiens drafted Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the third overall pick in the NHL draft on Friday night.
Weight: 190 lbs
Club: Assat Pori (SM-liiga)
Kotkaniemi is Europe's seventh-ranked skater according to NHL Central Scouting, but it wouldn't be surprising if he was drafted in the top five.
Kotkaniemi has an NHL-ready shot with a quick release and deadly accuracy. He also has world-class hands. When you factor in his high hockey IQ, it's nearly a lock that he'll be a consistent point-producer in the NHL.
Defensively, Kotkaniemi uses his great length to his advantage. He has a good stick, great drive, and will likely get a lot of takeaways at the next level.
The knock on Kotkaniemi is that he's a bit of a clunky skater, but that issue should be erased as he grows into his body. His straight-line speed isn't an issue, and he can be shifty with the puck on his stick.
With his skill, size, and smarts, Kotkaniemi has the potential to be a No. 1 center that all teams covet.
"He plays the game not like anybody else. He sees the game differently. He tries to make a play in every situation. He sees only upsides, and no downsides, and that’s why his game is sometimes a little bit risky. He’s very skilled," Finland's U18 coach Tommi Niemela said, according to The Athletic's Corey Pronman.