The Bruins made Urho Vaakanainen their pick at 18 in tonight’s draft. He wasn’t a name we’d previewed here, and wasn’t who we selected in the mock draft.
However, that doesn’t mean he’s a nobody! The NHL Central Scouting Service had him as its 8th-ranked European skater, and most other rankings had him in and around the top 20.
Let’s check in with what some pre-draft scouting reports and write-ups had to say about the new Bruin:
A very complete two-way defenceman who does not have a lot of flaws in his game...very good puck mover, has great poise and makes crisp, accurate passes. He’s a very mobile skater with impressive edge work and fluid strides. Has a high Hockey IQ and makes a lot of correct decisions with and without the puck.
Shines on the defensive side of the puck at even strength and PK. Has an uncanny ability to get his stick in shooting and passing lanes. Just don’t expect offence. He won’t be out there late in a game to tie it up, but you’ll love him out there protecting a lead.
He has above average hockey intelligence, which is seen in his defensive plays like his gap control and stick checking. He is strong enough to efficiently box out forwards while not overly aggressive. Once he has the puck he is mobile enough to skate it out, but will often default to a quick breakout pass with high efficiency.
While he won’t wow a team with his offensive prowess, there is some upside there with his high hockey IQ and solid wrist shot.
Offensively or defensively Vaakanainen won’t take risks, but he limits the opposition, gains the puck, and moves it forward quickly… cutting him in a somewhat similar stylistic mould of recent Finnish defenders like Olli Maata and Olli Juolevi.
A classic stay-at-home defenseman that has the uncanny knack to anticipate a transitional rush heading into his own zone. He seems more polished in front of the net than his peers, and is often described as playing beyond his years of experience.
He prefers a more active style of defence...using his stick to break up passes and take the puck away from his check along the boards. Once he has obtained it, his great awareness allows him to locate the best passing option to get out of his zone.
He can also lead the breakout himself, thanks to his exceptional skating ability. He has a smooth stride and is able to glide forward or backward with relative ease. When that is combined with his awareness, he’s virtually impossible to beat to the net in a one-on-one situation.
Do you like the Urho pick?
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