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04-16-2013, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by thomast View Post
Those players who you listed would pan out in every organisation because they are extremely and naturally talented. There haven't been absolute gems in blues program. Vaakanainen is one gem for very long time if not ever. In blues he gets very good coaching, induvidual training, winning enviroment and playing with great team mates. Blues organisation have relied more and more on own "product" promoting talented players in to higher lever and play them in the role which fit them best. Juuso Ikonen, Miro Aaltonen, Valtteri Virkkunen, Niklas Tikkinen, Hakanpää, Aleksi Rutanen, Nico Nyberg, Robert Rooba and Joonas Valkonen, Lars Volden all played FEL games last year. Kristian Näkyvä and Jere Sallinen blossomed in other organisations but played in blues junior program. There have been clear signs from the management that junior developement and program are one of the most important things for them. Time will tell if Vaakanainen will progress very well but i like that he chose blues which has very professional and well structured junior program.
I’m not denying that most of those guys would probably have done quite well in other organizations as well. Drive, determination, intelligence and ability to learn are in most cases more important than a slight difference in surroundings. I was just noting that most SM-liiga teams seem to have enough expertise to develop a player with the help of the national team program.

Blues junior teams are high in the standings, but it’s hard to determine how their coaches and training ultimately compare to those of other organizations. Most SM-liiga teams have highly dedicated coaches on their Jr.A and Jr.B teams, and offer a closely similar environment with Blues, but lack the depth and wealth of players to choose from.

SM-liiga is a development league for NHL and KHL, nowadays there’s room for promising youngsters on each team. Some might say that the wealth of prospects at Blues could in some cases make it harder for a Jr.A player to get a proper chance with their SM-liiga team.

My intuition is that KalPa would’ve been a good fit for Vaakanainen. Kuopio is close to Joensuu, the culture is similar and KalPa’s style of play compels defensemen to take a notable role with the puck. Moving to capital region has its own distractions and at this point it’s not a given that Vaakanainen gets a leading role with Blues’ Jr.B team next season. Carrying the team on your shoulders is what develops players the best and I’m not sure Blues can offer that, top responsibilities are often divided to several players there.

BTW, would you classify Vaakanainen as “extremely and naturally talented”? Is he in the same class with the top prospects mentioned earlier or will his possible future success be a merit of Blues organization?

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