WB Yeats: "Easter 1916"
Jesse Puljujärvi is a 6'3, 201lb winger with a shot like a cannon and the speed of an onrushing train. The 17-year-old, who is a Finn but was born in Sweden, is, along with his countryman and international linemate Patrik Laine, one of the most exciting skaters to come out of the Nordic countries in a generation. This season, while his North American counterparts have (with one notable exception in Auston Matthews) been competing against their own age-group, Puljujärvi has been playing for Karpat Oulu in the Finnish Liiga, thought by many to be the best league in Europe, against men.
He's put together 13 goals and 15 assists in Karpat this season, as well as being a truly dominant force in Finland's WJC gold-a tournament in which he scored 17 points in 7 games (5+12) for player of the tournament.
We could go for hours trying to make a distinction between him and his running-mate/partner in crime Patrik Laine, but that's for others to do (and even then, as Pension Plan Puppets proves, it's nearly impossible).
So let's forget the debate. Let's forget trying to make distinctions. Let's, as we will do tomorrow with Laine's profile, pretend the other doesn't exist and look at Puljujärvi in isolation. Here is his entire 15/16 Liiga season condensed into eight minutes. It's eight minutes of powerful, terrible beauty.
That is not a 17-year-old, at least not a normal 17-year-old. That is a force of nature enclosed in the fragile, still-expanding shell of a teenager's body.
The first minute alone is incredible enough. Two displays of incredible stickhandling and strength to fight through defenders to the net, followed by an assist so sublime it bears breaking down.
The puck is dragged behind the net and Karpat's opponents try to clear the puck with a routine dump down the boards, but Puljujärvi shows his physical side with a great (and clean) hit before pulling back down low for an outlet pass, before spinning and, completely blind, firing a perfect backhand slap-pass across the crease to Sebastian Aho to seize. Compared to that, the charge up ice breakaway goal in which he accelerates like a jet-propelled train on rails is...well, just a goal.
But there is so much more to come.
Consider for example, the passage of play between 4:27 and 5:00. They are two slapshots, two one-time blasts, but in them are contained multitudes. In the first, Puljujärvi barely moves. He simply positions himself at the left circle, waiting patiently for the puck to reach him, then explodes into a vicious blur of movement, the stick swinging up and down like Poe's pendulum to drive a nightmarishly powerful shot past the netminder.
The second, however, while outwardly similar, is far more cunning - far more intricate. Watch Puljujärvi start to move towards the slot and then, just as the defender's attention turns away from him, change direction and pull back out to his favoured sniping position on the left circle. That one half-second dart creates several feet of space as the puck is making its way, inexorably, toward him.
And then, the shot. The SHOT. It is ruthless - a rapier strike of a stick that arrows a puck into the very top corner of the net with accuracy so pinpoint, it could swat a bird from the sky.
In many, many other draft years, Puljujärvi would be a consensus top pick. The fact that he is considered third in this draft by many is either a tribute to just how good Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are or, more to the point, a tribute to the fact that people, even now, still don't realise just how good Puljujärvi is.
He is Jari Kurri's spiritual heir. He is Teemu Selanne if Teemu Selanne were a power forward.
He is, potentially, one of the greatest steals a team will ever take at 3rd in the draft.
In the past few years, the greatest 3rd overall pick has widely been considered to be Jonathan Toews in 2006. Puljujärvi could end up being that level of steal.
He is that good.
If the B's win the 3rd pick, or even if they win the 2nd, Puljujärvi has to be looked at very long, and very hard.
Patrik Laine is good, but he benefits, as PPP say in their piece, from recency bias - which may lead to Puljujärvi falling slightly in the draft.
It will be the equivalent of manna falling from heaven for whoever gets to draft him.