Aapeli Rasanen – The Next Ones: NHL 2016 Draft Prospect Profile

Aapeli Rasanen

2015-16 Team: Tappara U20 (#17)

Date of birth: 1/6/1998

Place of birth: Tampere, Finland

Ht: 6’0 Wt: 183

Shoots: Right

Position: C

NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible

THW’s Draft War Room May Rankings: 64

 

Other Rankings

  • NHL Central Scouting EU Skaters: 21
  • The Draft Analyst: 60

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Rasanen Gives Finland Depth in the Middle Rounds

A strong season finale at the U18 Worlds, where he collected nine points in seven games, moved Aapeli Rasanen up in the rankings. He is not a guy that stands out with fancy moves or highlight-reel goals. What makes Rasanen so strong is his two-way game, work ethic and hockey smarts. He does a lot of small things the right way, and his play away from the puck is exceptionally good.

Rasanen possesses silky-smooth hands and can handle the puck very well. He is a good setup-guy and uses his vision and awareness to distribute the puck with accuracy. His soft hands come in handy when under pressure, as he can stickhandle through traffic and keep a clear mind when pressured by opponents. He can show flashes of his decent Hockey IQ, from time to time, when in the offensive zone.

Although Rasanen is a pass-first guy, he can also shoot the puck with accuracy and score on one-timers. Defensively, he plays a very responsible game and backchecks to support defenders. He is able to read plays very well and knows when it’s best to play defensive, only to transition in a hurry when getting the puck.

Rasanen sometimes tends to play some sloppy passes when trying to make plays look easy. Another area where I would like to see him improving is his physical game. He often uses his active stick instead of his body to win board battles. As a late 98-born, he has the potential to add lots of strength and use his body more effectively in the coming months.

NHL Draft Projection:

Rasanen will most likely be selected in the third round. I had him as a fourth rounder throughout the season, as he lacked some consistency. However, he came up big at the U18 World Championship, where he was Finland’s second best scorer, and his three points in the semifinal against the American hosts helped lift his team into the gold medal game.

Quotables:

Rasanen is a sturdy-built forward who played well for the U18 national team. Committed defensively, Rasanen often excels away from the puck and has some finishing ability.

-Finnishjuniorhockey.com

All signs point towards this special team’s dynamo becoming one of the better two-way players this draft produces. Not only does he do it all on the ice — playmaking, speed, escapability, tenacity, versatility — but he’s a student of the game who spends time honing his craft away from the rink. Rasanen clubbed the international circuit to a tune of almost a point per game, and he’s almost 200 pounds before turning 18 in June.

-Steve Kournianos, thedraftanalyst.com

Statistics: 

Strengths:

  • Hockey smarts
  • Smooth puckhandler
  • Two-way game
  • Play away from the puck
  • Playmaking skills
  • Understanding of the game

Under Construction (Improvements to Make):

  • Physical game
  • Showed some inconsistency earlier in the year

NHL Potential:

Rasanen has the potential to become a smart two-way player who uses his Hockey smarts, strong play away from the puck and smooth hands to make plays. He is a quiet worker who can also shoot the puck or set up scoring chances, similar to New York Islander Frans Nielsen.

NHL comparison: Frans Nielsen

Risk-Reward Analysis:

Risk: 3/5   Reward: 3/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential:

Offensive = 6/10   Defensive = 5/10

Awards/Achievements:

2014/2015: EYOF Bronze Medal

2015/2016: U18 WJC Gold Medal

Interview/Profile Links:

Reviewing USHL Draft

Canucks Army’s Scouting Report on Rasanen

Video(s):

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YouTube player

Shots From the Slot (Interesting Notes):

Rasanen is looking to get drafted for the third time this year as he was drafted twice already in 2016. Dinamo Riga selected him in the KHL-Draft, and the Sioux City Musketeers have secured his rights in the USHL Draft. He did not make his debut yet in the Finnish Liiga, and will need to make a decision before the next season on where he is going to play. Eeli Tolvanen, 2017-eligible and fellow Finn, will most probably make a strong case for the USHL.

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THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph