With the 18th Pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins Have Selected Urho Vaakanainen From the JYP in Liiga.
About Urho Vaakanainen
Urho Vaakanainen won’t ever impress anybody on the scoresheet. He likely isn’t going to be a big point producer at any level of his career. Despite this, Vaakanainen has the potential to be an elite defenseman in the NHL due to his stay-at-home nature of play. A patient player, Vaakanainen might be the best pure defender in the entire 2017 Draft Class. While he isn’t much of a threat to produce points, he’s a surprisingly good puck-moving defenseman with his good vision and pin-point passing. He has the potential to help on the power play, but likely won’t have to with Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug currently on the roster.
— NHL (@NHL) June 24, 2017
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt:
Urho Vaakanainen is 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. Vaakanainen is patient and rarely allows a streaking forward a clear path to the goal. Plus, he disrupts the passing lane, and smart enough to use the boards when clearing the puck out of the zone. These attributes make him the ideal candidate to preserve a one-goal lead late in games.
Vaakanainen began receiving international attention after making his professional debut with the SM-Liga Blues at the ripe old age of 16-years old. He didn’t disappoint as Vaakanainen scored his first goal and added five assists in 25 games. In his second full season, Vaakanainen netted two goals and six points in 41 games, and also added three points in 14 playoff games. At the recently completed IHF Under-18 World Championships, Vaakanainen was a key member of the Finnish team that was a silver medalist winner in the competition.
How This Affects the Boston Bruins’ Plans
The Bruins are a team that has drafted well defensively over the last few seasons. With Brandon Carlo and McAvoy already making an impact on the team, the Bruins have proven that building through the draft an effective way to find potential stars. Still developing within the system are players like Rob O’Gara, Matt Grzelcyk, Ryan Lindgren, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon. Vaakanainen joins that group and has the potential to be the best defensive player of the group. Because he has a left-handed shot, he’ll likely continue to develop for a few seasons before making the jump to the NHL to play with the Bruins.