2020-21 Team: Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-Sarja) – #42
Date of Birth: March 1, 2003
Place of Birth: Espoo, Finland
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 154 pounds
Position: Left Defenseman
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 52nd (amongst EU skaters)
- Smaht Scouting: 114th
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 87th
- FC Hockey: 80th
- THW – Peter Baracchini: 122nd
- THW – Matthew Zator: 61st
Jimi Suomi is an undersized Finnish left-handed defenseman for Jokerit Helsinki’s under-20 (U20) program, for which he accumulated a goal and 10 assists in 15 games this season. His last name, funnily enough, translates to “Finland” in his native language. Suomi’s point production per game was the best among Jokerit defensemen with more than six games played, and he was an important part of both special team units for the program. He stands out by his tremendous forward skating speed and acceleration, paired with a sound but aggressive style of defending on the rush. His distribution ability and vision leave nothing to be desired, either. Despite his game being impressively entertaining for his size and age, Suomi has been projected by most draft sites to go in the late third round, or even in the late fourth in Smaht Scouting’s case.
However, if we compare Suomi’s production to U20 draft-eligibles in previous years, especially the defensemen from Jokerit’s 2019-20 campaign, the results are promising: the Vancouver Canucks’ 82nd overall pick in 2020, Joni Jurmo, played for the Helsinkian side last year and was their most productive defenseman with 28 points in 43 games, which was good for 0.55 points per game, compared to Suomi’s 0.73. Suomi’s sample size is much smaller due to COVID-19 delaying and cancelling a good number of Finnish U20 games, but it is clear how Suomi’s vision and passing benefit his offensive game and allow him to generate scoring chances for his teammates. He likely would have improved his production rate if the season had gone on longer.
As Suomi settled in his program, earned additional ice-time on both sides of the ice, and learned his teammates’ habits, his defensive prowess became more and more prominent; his in-zone play still needs fine-tuning, as is the case for a large majority of defense prospects, but his rush defending leaves very little to be desired. He seems to choose his moments very effectively when deciding between rushing the carrier or angling him off on the entry; his active stick allows him to press opponents into mistakes with efficiency, but his lack of size and reach puts him at a disadvantage when facing larger opponents, especially in-zone.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
As an undersized defenseman, he will need to learn to play against bigger, stronger forwards with larger wingspans, as those players will become more and more numerous when he climbs the professional ranks available to him.
Related THW Draft Profiles
Jimi Suomi – NHL Draft Projection
Suomi’s performance at the U18 World Championship put his name on the map for scouts who previously had few opportunities to evaluate his game, but there are still question marks as to the translatability of his defensive and physical game – teams do not often take undersized defensemen in the top two rounds, and when they do, the player is often exceptional in either skating ability or defensive prowess. Suomi is far from being weak in these aspects, but his skating and defense cannot be qualified as exceptional. He does show decent flashes and an interesting skillset to build upon, but long-term projects are mostly for Round 3 and later. THW’s own Matthew Zator had him 61st in April, whereas Peter Baracchini’s final 160 has him 122nd, and Andrew Forbes has him unranked in his top 128 of May. Expect to see him around the 80th pick, and as high as the mid-60s if a team really likes his profile.
“Suomi is a fluid skater who flashes a deceptive breakout game and can run a power play competently with his passing. He’s probably better off with getting paired with a more defensively-minded player.” – Lassi Alanen, EP Rinkside
“Suomi is a dangerous player with the puck on his stick. He’s an excellent skater with both explosive acceleration and quick speed that allow him to jump into the rush and become an instant offensive threat.” – Austin Broad, FC Hockey
- Passing accuracy
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Physical game
- In-zone defending
- Four-way explosivity
As Suomi gets drafted and develops his game at higher ranks of Finnish hockey, he will likely be faced with a dilemma: does he work on his physical and defensive game to refine it up to a competitive level, or does he lean on his strengths and become a purely offensive blueliner? The team that drafts him will likely have a word with the direction his development takes, but Suomi would be much better served leaning on his strengths and becoming a power-play specialist. His offensive prowess is excellent enough where he could become a third or fourth defenseman with top power-play responsibilities, but without at least some work on his in-zone positioning and his ability to box out forwards on the cycle, he will likely end up as a depth defender.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8/10, Defense – 6/10
Suomi was named to the U16 SM-Sarja II All-Star Team in 2018-19. He has no other awards as of yet.