Our 2016 NHL Draft prospect profile series keeps rolling on. Today, we will feature Finnish center Otto Somppi who is currently coming off of a solid rookie season with Halifax in the QMJHL. Let's take a closer look at the tenacious center.
Who is Otto Somppi?
Otto Somppi was born on January 12, 1998, making him 18 years old. The QMJHL website list the left handed center at 6'1, 181 lbs. According to Elite Prospects, the Helsinki, Finland native first spent time with the Sipoon Wolf youth team before moving on to play his junior hockey with Jokerit. The Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL drafted Somppi 19th overall in the CHL Import Draft in 2015. Last season he had a solid debut for Halifax as you can see from the stats below. Somppi has also represented Finland on the U16, U17, and U18 levels.
As we can see from the stats above, Somppi progressed nicely through the junior ranks at Jokerit producing over a point per game at the U16 level in 2012-13 and at a point per game level with the U18 side in 2013-14. It appears he had a solid showing for the U20 team in 2014-15 as one of the younger members on the squad.
This past season, Somppi finished 3rd on Halifax in scoring with 46 points in 59 games. That was also good for 8th overall in the QMJHL in rookie scoring. According to Prospect-Stats, Somppi had a 12.15 SH%, averaged 1.81 SH/GP, had a Goals Created of 15.20 for a per game rate of 0.26. Also according to their formula, his estimated ice time was 19.654 per game. He also appeared in the CHL Top Prospects Game.
As mentioned, he also has represented Finland at various levels over the past few seasons. We can see that in 2013-14 he was an Alternate Captain for Finland's U16 side in international play and he produced 12 points in 11 games. The following season he was an Alternate Captain for Finland's U17 team where he had 18 points in 19 games. He also put up 3 goals and 3 assists in 6 games at the U17 World Hockey Championships. This past season he represented Finland's U18 teams at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament where he had 3 points in 5 games. At the U18 World Junior Championships he had 2 points in 7 games and put up a tournament best 69.39 FO% in route to a Gold Medal.
The Projection Project list his NHLe at 16 for this past season. According to their model he has a 23% chance of becoming a regular NHL player, most likely as a 3rd or 4th liner.
Where is Somppi Ranked?
What Others Say About Otto Somppi
With Somppi relatively new to North America, information isn't as abundant for the Finnish center. I was able to track down a few interesting reports, starting with Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst from this past April:
Somppi’s rookie season with Halifax (QMJHL) was a bit inconsistent, so we looked at his U18 nomination as a good chance to help his draft stock. Somppi’s been dominant in the faceoff dot, leading the circuit with a 72 percent success rate (61-24). He played like his pesky self against the Russians, using his active stick and speed to press opposing puck carriers. Somppi also revealed a consistent backchecking presence, which we rarely saw in our (limited) viewings of his play with Halifax. He’s far from physical — Somppi rarely finishes a check and acquiesces to the stick rather than the body way too often. But he looked good on Finland’s second power play unit and made a handful of controlled zone entries.
For a player with a limited offensive ceiling, it's encouraging to read that he's strong at faceoffs and possesses an active stick defensively to frustrate the opposition. His commitment to backchecking also suggests that he has a positive attitude towards working for the team. It seems like he could be a bit more physical, but as long as he is in position defensively, I don't see that being a huge issue. The ability to enter the offensive the zone with control of the puck is also a nice plus for the center.
Next, Bill Placzek from Draft Site gives his opinion on Somppi:
Has the skill to wiggle and weave through traffic and make plays. An early season shoulder injury stalled his progress a bit. An aggressive push the pace set-up man who always is trying to get the opposition on their heels. He is quick and tenacious on the forecheck, pressuring opposing defenders into the bad puck decisions. He has a good shot which he releases quickly, and good touch when in close. Gets back to his defensive zone and works hard to break things up and provide backside pressure away from the puck. Developmental centre-forward who needs to get thicker and be able to anchor down and hold possession.
It seems like Somppi must be a decent skater if his game revolves around carrying the puck through traffic and pressuring the opposition with an aggressive forecheck. Based on this report, it seems like he could be a player that even when not producing points, can still positively affect what is going on out there on the ice. With the earlier report mentioning that he isn't the most physical and this one suggesting he could use more muscle to help in puck battles, it does seem like he has more filling out to do before he could go pro.
Here is an excerpt from an article from The Chronicle Herald about Somppi at the beginning of this past season. This is what his coach, Dominique Ducharme had to say about him:
"He’s a good skater, he’s a smart kid on the ice and he’s always got his head up. He’s got a great view of the ice. He sees the ice really well so that’s something that will help him. He’s coming from a different kind of game so there will be an adjustment for him. But he’s smart so I think from one week to the other, we should see him getting better."
It's always a good sign to read that a player, especially a center, already possesses solid vision. With one year of North American play under his belt, he seems like a real candidate to break out next season.
A Little Video
This video from YouTube user, John Moore (not that John Moore), has a short interview with Somppi and his coach in Halifax as well as some game video mixed in. Somppi directly acknowledges that he needs to improve his physical play to compete in North America which was a concern from the reports above. In the brief game video you can see how active he tries to be, especially defensively in breaking up plays. That channel also has a couple of his goals posted where he utilizes his vision to get in to the correct spot on the ice to finish the play.
An Opinion of Sorts
I suppose if Somppi is still around in the 4th round, then I wouldn't mind the Devils using one of their picks on him. I like what I've read about his skating, defensive work, vision, and two-way play. His offensive ceiling may be a bit limited but he does seem to have other skills that could make him an effective 3rd line player one day. He isn't large but he still has a decent frame that he should grow into which will also help him compete in puck battles. He has done well to progress through the ranks at Jokerit and with Finland's junior teams and is coming off of a solid rookie season for Halifax. He could very well be capable of having a break out year next season if he can avoid injury.
Does Otto Somppi interest you as a prospect? Would you want the Devils to try to grab him in the middle of the draft? Does his lack of physicality concern you? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!