If that name sounds familiar to you, the People Who Matter, then that is because he was actually profiled here earlier this month. I suggest checking it out to learn more about the player, what he has done, and what he could do in the future. Here is the short version of profile. He’s a safe selection. He is not seen as someone with a lot of upside but has a fairly high floor as he is already playing professional hockey in Finland, he was the only draft-eligible player for Finland at the 2023 WJCs, and he already knows the net is the place to be. He does need to work on getting stronger (true of most prospects, to be fair), improving his speed, and adding more to his game than just getting close to the net for rebounds, tips, and close shots. He is signed with Ässät through the 2024-25 season per his Elite Prospects page. The Devils can let him play in Liiga and bring him over when he is ready. Hopefully as a more well-rounded player.
For a reaction outside of here, here’s Elite Prospects overview of the player. They like the pick well enough and praised Hämeenaho’s mind for the game on the ice. Which is very much a plus. A projection of “slower Tanner Pearson” is not exactly what you want to read. But Pearson is a NHL player and, again, this is 58th overall. A future NHL player is the goal at this point and beyond in the draft. Work on that skating, young Lenni.
This is backed up by this Tweet from Lassi Alanen, who covers European prospects for EP. He had this separate take on Hämeenaho:
What Lenni Hämeenaho (NJD, #58) lacks in footspeed and mobility, he makes up with his brain. Excellent instincts around the net, always ahead of the play. A very capable finisher from up close and mid-distance. Rather strong age-adjusted production in Liiga this season.— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) June 29, 2023
This is a fine selection for where the Devils are drafting. This is the late end of the second round. The picks, at this point, are mostly long shots. The goal is really to find a future NHL player of any position and role as opposed to a specific type. That said, I think the Devils could have done better. Gracen Sawchyn and Reily Heidt were both available at 58th overall. They would have been fantastic selections since the Devils clearly took a forward and both have been very productive in the WHL. Both went a few picks after New Jersey, to Florida (63rd) and Minnesota (64th), respectively. Either would have been my preference. Still, Lenni Hämeenaho was someone I thought would be around this part of the draft and would be a respectable selection. The Devils did that. We shall see if he, along with Topias Vilén and Samu Salminen, can break the apparent curse of Finnish prospects in this organization.
Now that you know what I think about the pick, please feel free to give your reaction to the pick in the comments. Please also vote in our 24 hour poll (ends at 11:50 AM), that will lead to a later post describing what you, the People Who Matter, thought of the pick. Thank you for reading.
The Devils drafted Lenni Hämeenaho at 58th Overall. What do you think of the pick?
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