Finland has produced some quality NHL forwards in recent years, with names like Teemu Selanne, Olli Jokinen, the Koivu brothers, and Jussi Jokinen performing admirably. The Devils even recently traded for their own Finnish forward in Tuomo Ruutu, who has a good opportunity to become a solid contributor with the team. Juho Lammikko, A Finnish born power forward, is entering the NHL Draft this year. Will the Devils potentially draft and sign a second skater from this Scandinavian land?
Who is Juho Lammikko?
Lammikko is a big two-way winger, standing at a tall 6'2" and weighing 190 pounds. His size has been a definitive advantage for him throughout his junior career, as he has been able to power through the competition. His birthday was on January 29th, 1996, putting him at a fairly young 18 years old entering the draft. He has grown up in the Finnish system playing for the Ӓssӓt club. He currently plays on the wing for them, sporting a left handed shot.
The first stat that probably jumps out at you is what he did for his club's U16 team during the 2011-2012 season. In only 26 games played, he put up 52 goals and 51 assists for a total of 103 points. When I saw that, my jaw dropped. That is an astounding 3.96 points per game. While that is obviously impossible to sustain at higher levels, just the fact that he was able to produce points at such a high rate is promising for his future potential.
The following season, he jumped up to the U18 Ӓssӓt team, where as a 16-17 year old he produced 21 goals and 53 points in 31 games. While not nearly as productive as he was the year before, the over 1.5 points per game that he produced that season was still extraordinary considering that he would have been one of the younger players on the ice at all times. Ӓssӓt knew this, and even tried to bring him up to the U20 league that season, but it seems that he was not developed enough, producing only 1 point and a differential of -4 in 15 games.
By the following season, however, he had aged enough to become highly successful in U20, posting 17 goals and 42 points in 37 games, still producing at over 1 point per game. But once again, the club tried to move him up prematurely to the next level, this time to the highest professional level in Finland, the Liiga. Here, while still only 18 years old, he was able to muster only 1 point in 20 games played. The way he has been making strides recently, however, hopefully the next step forward is for him to find success in the Liiga, assuming that is where he plays next season. It seems that once he ages enough to match his peers in size and skill, he dominates. If he can do that in the pros, then his game could translate incredibly well to the NHL.
What Others Have Said About Lammikko
Most scouting information out there on Lammikko has been very positive. Anyone who watches him play is impressed by his ability to be an offensive force while still having good vision on the ice, quality passing abilities, and a desire to chip in defensively. Elite Prospects has this to say about the winger:
A winger with promising size, Lammikko works hard at both ends of the ice and is strong in small spaces and corners. He is a decent skater with good stickhandling and playmaking ability. Lammikko has been an eager shooter in the juniors, but seems more apt as a set-up man with his vision and IQ. He is also characterized by good decision-making and sound defensive play.
This blurb speaks very highly of Lammikko, praising his skating, stickhandling and playmaking abilities all while mentioning his high hockey IQ and ability to be a quality defensive forward. If one were simply to just read what Elite Prospects had to say about him, Lammikko could easily be considered a top flight prospect in this upcoming draft, especially for the Devils who take pride in having forwards who can both play smart and play defense. Future Considerations also has nothing incredibly negative to say about him, writing this back in November:
Lammikko has good size and knows how to use it to dig in corner. Skates well but does not have blazing speed. He does a good job to tie up his man defensively and plays with a good compete level. Has soft hands, shoots the puck often and displays solid vision.
The one real negative that is mentioned in that quote is that Juho does not have excellent speed on the ice. But when you consider his size, and that he would ultimately project as more of a two-way power forward as a result of that size, the lack of top notch speed becomes understandable and not a huge knock against his potential to succeed in the NHL. Instead, those teams considering drafting him would look to his soft hands, solid vision, and defensive capabilities, with the hope that speed comes later.
The one website that has not been completely positive about the Finnish skater is Hockey's Future, which was quick to compare Lammikko with Finland native Joel Armia, who was a first round pick by Buffalo back in 2011.
Juho Lammikko has the frame and physical attributes that he can, at the least, be an effective two-way forward. Still in the early stages of his development curve, his scoring ability at junior levels suggest he can be an offensive force. However, part of his dominance at the junior levels has been due to his size. The challenge for him will to be equally successful against bigger, stronger opponents.
The website believes that Juho is a late bloomer, considering that he has not really performed at the highest level in Finland. This is a major knock against the skater, as even though he was young this year, if he does not learn to produce at the highest level in his home country he will not be successful in the NHL. That question mark alone will mean that he drops in this draft. Armia produced really well in his first stint up at the Liiga, which catapulted him to first round status. Considering that Lammikko did not, he more than likely will not be taken as high as his countryman.
In terms of rankings, Lammikko was regarded as the 13th best European skater for Central Scouting's midterm rankings. He dropped ever so slightly for the final rankings, moving down to number 14. That is still a fairly high ranking, and one that should mean that he is drafted relatively early, even if not in the first round. Craig Button, TSN analyst, has the Finnish skater as #77 in his top 100, which would land him in the third round, only six picks after the Devils go at 71. I could easily foresee Lammikko going higher due to his size, production in the juniors and potential for success in the NHL. A second round selection would not surprise me at all, although I also understand Button's ranking given his lack of production in the Liiga.
A Little Video
There are a few videos out there showcasing Lammikko's talent with Ӓssӓt. The first video here is a rebound goal that he scored on March 20th of this year against Kӓrpӓt.
As you can see, Lammikko was clearly in the right place at the right time. He had enough vision on the ice to know where to be in case a juicy rebound fell his way-which it ultimately did. When chances like that arise, players need to be conscious of where to be on the ice, and he certainly was in that instance.
Another video, shown here, was taken on December 14th of last year, and shows Juho successfully converting on a penalty shot.
I really like seeing this, as it goes against the thought process that he is a big forward that can only score by hanging out around the net and redirecting pucks and hammering home rebounds. This penalty attempt clearly shows skill and stick handling, which is extremely important if he is going to become successful for a NHL club one day. Brute force alone won't get you far, but force along with skill is a great combination. He also showed some decent skating ability, although that is more difficult to gather from looking at just one penalty shot.
An Opinion of Sorts
The biggest concern with regards to Lammikko, at least in my opinion, is the idea that he has been able to overpower his competition simply due to his size. Once he enters the NHL he will be playing against others just as big and strong as him. Will he still be able to produce when he can no longer simply overpower those around him on the ice? That, most likely, is the million dollar question surrounding him. If the answer is yes, then he will probably be a surefire success for whoever drafts him. If the answer is no, however, then he has strong bust potential.
If the Devils want to seriously take Juho, they should consider doing so with the #41 pick. While he may fall to the third round, there is a good chance that he is gone by the time the Devils are on the clock at pick #71. However, I am not quite sure that I would be overly thrilled picking him in round 2. The Devils need to draft forwards who are more NHL ready, if at all possible. And while Lammikko can one day turn into a highly successful forward, he is more of a project pick, as noted by Pro Puck Prospects. Project picks, ones that need a lot of training and time to reach the NHL, are usually better suited for middle or later round picks. The Devils' 2nd round pick is higher in the round, and many feel that the team may be able to snag first round talent with that pick. If that is possible, especially if that talent is a forward, then I would definitely prefer taking that person over Lammikko.
However, this opinion does not mean that I dislike the power forward in any way. I think that Juho has an excellent chance to produce at the highest level if he can gain some speed and learn how to beat those that are of a similar size to him. But in the end, his lack of production in the Liiga is concerning, as one would love to see assurance that he can produce against the big boys. On the off chance that he falls to the team in the third round, I would be thrilled with a pick like Juho Lammikko. If he is taken in the second round, I would be happy that a forward was taken, but somewhat concerned with the risk factor.
Now that you have learned about him, what do you think of the Finnish winger? Knowing his projections and rankings, would you want to take him in the second round? What if he happens to fall into the third round? Or are you too put off by his lack of production at higher levels? Please leave your comments in the section below, and thank you for reading.