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Kristian Vesalainen is a Finnish player, who signed with Frolunda to ply his trade in Sweden. He played 19 SHL games last year (scoring a goal and an assist), and 26 this year (scoring six points). However, he was loaned to HPK in his native Finland. In the Finnish Liiga, he scored one goal in nine games. Vesalainen has also played a number of games in the Swedish and Finnish junior leagues.
Over the last two years, Vesalainen has also starred for Finland’s national teams. He put up four goals and eight points in five games at the 2015 Under 17 Challenge. Vesalainen also added two goals and six points in seven games as an underager at the 2016 Under 18 World Championships. He has absolutely exploded in the first three games of this year’s Under 18, putting up three goals and eight points. Vesalainen was also an underager at the 2017 World Juniors. He put up two points in six games for a disappointing Finnish team in that tournament.
Kristian Vesalainen Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #19
Right Wing — shoots Left
Born June 1, 1999 — Helsinki, Finland
Height 6’3″ — Weight 209 lbs [192 cm / 95 kg]
Vesalainen is a very good skater for his size. He has an explosive first step and very good acceleration, allowing him to be quick on loose pucks. He also has good top end speed once he gets going. Possessing good lower body strength, and a powerful stride, Vesalainen is very good at fighting through checks and getting to the front of the net. He also is strong along the boards, winning battles for the puck, and controlling the game in the cycle game. His agility and edgework is good for a big man, but continued improvement is possible.
A versatile player, Vesalainen has experience playing both wings. He has excellent size, and uses it to protect the puck along the boards and extend plays in the cycle. Gifted with a large wing-span, Vesalainen takes advantage of it, and uses his excellent stick handling ability to play keep-away with defenders. He also has the passing skill to move the puck to teammates in good areas once he creates that time and space. A budding power forward, Vesalainen wins battles along the boards. He is also not afraid to fight through checks to get to the front of the net.
Vesalainen also has an excellent array of shots. His wrist shot and snap shots both feature good power and a quick release. He could work on his accuracy though. Vesalainen can also bury in tight to the net, with the soft hands to finish in close to the goaltender. He chases down loose pucks relentlessly. Vesalainen is involved in the play in all three zones. He has a very high motor and is almost always at the centre of the action.
Vesalainen is a very good two-way player. As mentionned, he is willing to get involved in battling for loose pucks in all three zones. Vesalainen is committed to back checking. He supports the defense down low, and understands how to apply back pressure. He is very good positionally and cuts down passing and shooting lanes. Vesalainen has been used on the penalty kill at the international level.
Projection and Comparison
Vesalainen has room for continued growth; but he also has the potential to be a very effective top-six player. His combination of size, skill, and work ethic that make him a highly sought after prospect in this year’s draft. In terms of a stylistic comparision, Vesalainen’s game is reminiscent of Rick Nash. This is just from a style standpoint though, and not talent based.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the #20 Prospect available on our draft board.