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2017 NHL Draft prospect profile: Eemeli Rasanen likes to hit people

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The towering, physical force with a booming shot could be a mid-round steal for the Habs

Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Eemeli Rasanen is a large presence on the ice. Standing at an astounding 6’7’’ tall and weighing in at 214 pounds, he’s a literal mountain on skates. He loves to play physically, and with his body type, that’s a scary force to have patrolling a blue line.

At 18 years old his body is still maturing and growing, which is a terrifying thought when you consider Rasanen is likely to add on a good amount of muscle in the next few years.

There’s more than meets the eye with this massive Finn, however. There’s a solid offensive side that helps to round out his stingy defensive ability. He’s the type of player that at his peak can be a massive difference-maker in the NHL, and Montreal would be adding a major piece to their deck of prospect cards by selecting him.

Birthplace: Joensuu, Finland
Shoots: Right
Position: Defence
Height: 6’7’’
Weight: 214 lbs.

Rasanen chose to move to the OHL and play his next season there as well. “I enjoy the North American style of play; it’s faster and more physical, and that’s how I want to play,” he said at the draft combine.

With a frame like his it’s not hard to see why Rasanen enjoys the physical play. He has the ability to shut down opposing forwards entering the zone with clean hits.

“I like to hit people a lot.”

While he cites his best asset as his physicality, Rasanen is more than competent on the offensive side of the puck. He possesses a hard slapshot and the ability to read plays and try the risky pass versus the safe option. He can play in any situation because of this, whether it be the man advantage or on the penalty kill.

Due to his gargantuan wingspan and overall size, Rasanen is able to win puck battles with ease. He can either use his large frame to force opposing forwards off the puck, and easily protect the net. Or he utilizes his long reach to break up opposing rushes into the zone, which meshes with his ability to read the play well in his own end.

There are some wrinkles to Rasanen’s game that he’ll continue to iron out as he ages, something that every player has to do regardless of their skill level. The biggest issue being that his footspeed and agility could use some fine tuning going forward. He moves fairly well for a player of his size, but some scouts worry that he could be at a major disadvantage at the professional level if it doesn’t improve.

While his production was very good for his style of play, he was a bit reliant on the power play to generate points. Going forward, increasing his production at even strength would be a key step in his development.

The other major issue actually relates to that physicality he speaks of. Despite using his body well in physical situations, he could stand to do so more often, and adding more muscle will further improve this area of his game. When you consider his size, and adding up to 20 more pounds, he becomes a much more terrifying presence on the ice.

Scouting

Future Considerations:

Rasanen is a big-bodied smooth skater that plays a pro-style, puck possession game. He plays very good, positional hockey, and uses all his tools to maintain good coverage. He possesses a big time points shot and isn’t afraid to try the risky pass in order to make a play. Rasanen is a tower of a defenceman, and he uses his size and reach to break up offensive opportunities.

ISS

Rasanen has made massive strides in his development this year. Used his exceptional size and strength to win puck battles, competes well also. Likes to step up at the blue line to throw punishing body checks. Reads the play well in his own zone, gets in the shooting lane and positions himself well. Lots of development needed, but has pro potential.

Rankings

ISS: 42
Future Considerations: 132
McKeen’s: 58
NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters): 32
Corey Pronman: 87

Thoughts

It’s easy to look at a player like Eemeli Rasanen and assume that all he’s capable of is being a hit-throwing, defensive defenceman. However, with his ability to read the play and move the puck, in addition to possessing a howitzer of a shot, he looks to be a far more well-rounded player than he’s given credit for.

He also has the profile that a team like the Canadiens is sure to be all over, and given that they were one of the 16 teams to interview the behemoth Finn during the draft combine, the interest is clearly there.

The rankings for Rasanen are all over the board as well, ranging from 132nd in Future Considerations‘ rankings to being in the top 50 in other lists. The Habs possess two second-round picks this year, one being their own, the other acquired from the Washington Capitals in the Lars Eller trade. They also have a third-round pick, at 87th overall, but it’s entirely possible that Rasanen is off the board by that point.

Rasanen is an intriguing prospect. Drafting gigantic, physical defenders has met with mixed results over the years of the NHL Draft — for the Habs and other organizations — with many more misses than hits. The Canadiens moved up to draft Brett Lernout, a few years ago, and moved into the seventh round last year to draft Arvid Henrikson.

Outside of the first round, it can be argued that you swing for the fences with your picks, drafting for the highest possible upside, and Rasanen could end up being a home run for Marc Bergevin.