You want sizable wingers on your team? Well, look no further than Jani Nyman. Built like a tank, Nyman did tremendously well this season playing against fully grown opponents in the Finnish second tier, Mestis. Add on a late birthday to that equation and there could be a lot to get excited about when it comes to this Finnish winger.
Birthplace: Valkeakoski, Finland
Date of birth: July 30, 2004
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 216 lbs.
Team: Ilves (Liiga)
When a Liiga team decides to let a prospect grow in the Mestis for a season, you mostly look for them to get comfortable playing professional hockey. Taking the leap up from the Under-20s can be a complicated tasks even for the most talented youngsters, and many times first-tier clubs in the KHL, SHL, or Liiga have neither the time nor the patience to let a prospect flourish in an optimal role.
It’s basic facts, but if you put a prospect who’s used to leading his team both on and off the ice in a limited, fourth-line type of setting, you may end up missing out on the qualities that made you originally want to promote him. Saying that, it’s not like it’s just a piece of cake playing in Mestis either. In fact, I don’t imagine Ilves envisioned a scenario in their crystal ball where Nyman wouldn’t just flourish, but be KOOVEE’s creative epicentre, when they decided to loan him out for his first season of professional hockey.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start: Nyman is not built like an ordinary 17-year-old. The body he carries around is similar to Milan Lucic’s frame. With that in mind, one would be inclined to guess that Nyman plays with a lot of physicality as well, but that is not the case. He is much more of a creator, who just happens to be built like a refrigerator.
His best asset thus far in his young career is seemingly his shot. He possesses both the power and the accuracy needed to be a lethal power-play threat at his current playing level. Combined with a fair share of deception and ability to find open space for his linemates, things start to look quite intriguing.
Still, if you look at his point production throughout his Junior years, it has never been extraordinary. Perhaps something clicked when he joined KOOVEE? Either that, or last season just turned out to be an irregular glitch in the Janiverse.
Another potential issue is his skating. With the puck on his stick, he can get by just by being sly and tricky, but he lacks acceleration and does not backcheck as well as one (meaning his coaches) may prefer. Multiple scouting reports suggest a player who can create something out of nothing in possession, but then looks disengaged and uninterested when he has to focus on defence.
If we want to give him a pass on this for now, we could ask ourselves how easy it really is to play a full 200-foot game as a 17-year-old when you carry around on 216 pounds of body mass. Maybe it’s all more of a stamina issue than it is a lack of effort? His somewhat clunky skating technique could perhaps similarly be explained by him not having grown into his body to a full extent.
So far though, what we know is that Nyman’s defence and overall skating ability remain works in progress and will be details to keep an eye on going into the next Liiga season.
Elite Prospects: #77
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #49
NHL Central Scouting: #24 (European Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #33
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #45
Overall, the hockey community seem to agree that Nyman is the type of prospect you take a flier on between the late first round and the mid second. Elite Prospects is cooler on him, which is why they would rank the Finn in the 70s. In their recently released draft guide, they state that he struggles to string together his impressive qualities to something cohesive for longer periods of time. That, combined with a flawed skating technique and a lack of necessary pace means that there is a chance that the point-producing left-winger never carves out a suitable NHL role.
They agree with the rest of the draft analysts however, that in the end Nyman will be selected much earlier than at number 77 thanks to the potential homerun a team could hit if it ironed out the aforementioned flaws. After all, an innate goal-scoring ability and an intriguing physique is a hard combination to pass up.
Two years ago, KOOVEE turned Roby Järventie from a fringe prospect to a player chosen as one of the first players on the second day of that draft. Järventie had been loaned out from Ilves to the second tier to get valuable playing time, and ended up scoring 23 goals and 15 assists in just 36 played games.
From the looks of it, it seems like we may have a similar scenario on our hands this year. If Nyman doesn’t end up being selected in round one, I’d expect him to hear his name called out very early on July 8.