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08-11-2011, 06:51 PM
  #323
Tormentor
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Probably best that I don’t say much about MacKinnon since I’ve only seen him once and it was through a web stream, but I don’t think he’s a new Crosby, that’s for sure.

Ristolainen’s game defensively in his own zone could be a thing worth keeping an eye on against tougher opponents. He didn’t have problems in Jr.B or national team, but last season in Jr.A his +/- was -20 in only 27 games, which was worst in his team and one of the worst in the whole league. I remember watching a Jr.A game where he was in trouble in his own zone almost every other shift, it seemed that he had problems reading and anticipating the play correctly, plus he was running around a bit foolishly every now and then. The coach was clearly trying to give instructions to him after the shifts. Ristolainen seemed to have a fairly free role to take boldly part in offensive plays, so in total his +/- isn’t a big surprise, but his defensive game might be the part where he needs to improve the most. It would be nice to see him play regularly in SM-liiga in order to get a better picture of his defensive shortcomings at the moment. I don’t think him playing against kids of his own age is going to tell as much anymore.

I remember seeing Ristolainen for the first time when he was playing in Jr.C as an underager, he was probably 5’9’’ tall at the time and what really stood out in his game was his great lateral movement. Growing 6 inches during the next 2 or 3 years changed the way he moves.

If Juuso Ikonen would be 6’0’’ tall, he’d 1st on my list. 5’10’’ and he’d be 2nd on my list, but he’s probably something like 5’7’’ at the moment, so all I can say that let’s hope he still has some growth left in him.

I like the way Lehkonen has developed lately, during WU-17 hockey Challenge he was still clearly behind Ikonen and Tanus, but during Jr.B playoffs he was the best player for TPS alongside with Ristolainen, and now in Hlinka he seemed like the best forward on the 2nd line. Such a smart player and plays a surprisingly mature two-way game. I’m not sure if he’s a prime NHL prospect just yet, but I have a feeling that he at least has a good chance of developing into a national team player. Seems to have grown from last season as well, looks to be something like 5’10’’ at the moment.

Koivistoinen is an intriguing prospect; skill, size and a fairly nice skating ability. Not quite sure about his hockey sense, level of determination and the ability/willingness to play a more physical game. As far as I can tell he could go either way, either he becomes a good pro player or just another beer leaguer. Seeing him play in Jr.A should answer some questions.

At first I was very high on Husso, but I have since then changed my mind a bit and I’m not sure if he’s ready for a full season in Jr.A this upcoming season. Not that I understand much about goaltending. Lintuniemi is a 2014 prospect by the way.

I’ve watched 8 periods from U20 Summer Challenge now (missed the 3rd period against Sweden, I was too sleepy) and I have to say that Barkov might have a small chance of making the team, especially if either Mi.Granlund or Salomäki is unavailable for some reason. There just aren’t that many good options for centre forward position. I think Barkov should be tried out in Mestis games to see how he succeeds there and advance from there if things go well. You won’t loose anything by looking at this option. Of course we have to remember that USA and Slovakia weren’t the best possible opponents at Hlinka, so maybe that gave a too good of a picture about him. We’ll be a lot wiser in a few months.

Ruuttu played the first two games with Pulkkinen and Ma.Granlund on the 1st line and didn’t really shine, not enough puck skills and didn’t seem ready for such a big role. He didn’t play tonight and I think he might be more useful in an energy role on the 3rd or 4th line. Paajanen played between P & G tonight and wasn’t much better. Then there’s Halinen who was used a lot on penalty kill and might be the best option that we have for the 4th line centre forward role. Ma.Granlund is another option as a centre forward, but I’d prefer to see him on the wing in this tournament.

In my dreams the forward lines for WJC’s would at the moment be as following:
Mr.Someone – Mi.Granlund - Pulkkinen
Donskoi – Barkov - Salomäki
Ma.Granlund - Ruuttu - Armia
Suoranta – Halinen - Partanen

I’m hoping for 3 strong lines, the option to move Salomäki to the wing, Barkov having a real breakthrough season and someone coming from nowhere to fill one of the top-9 roles):

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