Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.
Mikko Rantanen (RW)
Height: 6’4 Weight: 211 Shoots: Left
Team: TPS Turku (SM-liiga)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 among International skaters
What kind of player is he?
Another large, physically imposing winger, Rantanen benefited from playing professionally last year in the Finnish league — he finished second on his team in scoring, with 29 points in 56 games, and served as an alternate captain despite only turning 18 in October.
His professional experience was on full display at the World Juniors. While Finland flopped to a seventh-place finish, Rantanen impressed scouts with his individual efforts, scoring four goals in five games while emerging as one of the most dynamic forwards in the tournament.
Rantanen is easily one of the most NHL-ready prospects in this year’s draft. He’s spent either part or all of the last three seasons playing against men in the SM-liiga, and his size should allow him to immediately hang with professionals in North America.
“Rantanen utilizes a coveted combination of size, skill and offensive ability that teams cherish. He has a long, lean frame that he uses to shield the puck from defenders, but I’d like to see that size used more effectively as a consistent physical force. He doesn’t play scared, and could physically dominate opponents when he fills out his body — which would make him very tough to stop. His skating is good for a big kid and defensively, he’s aware of his responsibilities.”
NHL comparable: James van Riemsdyk/Kevin Hayes