2019-20 Teams: Swift Current Broncos/Everett Silvertips
Date of Birth: Jan 3, 2002
Place of Birth: Vaasa, Finland
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 180 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting (Among NA Skaters): 76th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 83rd
- The Draft Analyst: 143rd
- The Hockey Writers (Bell): 92nd
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 83rd
- The Hockey Writers (Fisher): 100th
Finland has yet another crop of talented young defencemen getting ready to make their mark on the NHL draft. Among them is the smooth-skating Kasper Puutio. He may not be the one that gets you jumping out of your seat during a game, but he will be the most reliable defender out there. At the end of the day, that’s all you want from the players guarding your blueline. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have any offensive potential, he can definitely put up points, but that’s not what he’s known for. What he’s good at is being calm under pressure and very stable when he’s on the ice.
Related: FREE 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Puutio is a modern-day defenceman capable of moving the puck quickly out of his own zone. He also has great vision and passing skills coming through the neutral zone. He may be a little undersized, but that shouldn’t hold him back too much. As we’ve seen lately with players even smaller than him, skating and agility seem to matter more than size in the NHL these days.
After being selected first overall by the Swift Current Broncos in the CHL Import Draft last year, Puutio had a pretty successful first season in North America. However, it wasn’t until he got traded to the Everett Silvertips that it really took off. In the 21 games after the trade, he had 4 goals and 12 points along with a plus/minus rating of plus-13. To put that in perspective he only had 16 points in 35 games along with a plus/minus rating of minus-15 with the Broncos. That could have been the product of being on a better team, but that shouldn’t discount his strong finish to the season.
Puutio should be one to watch in the coming seasons, especially with how well rounded his game is. He did struggle a bit in the Hlinka Gretzky Tournament against Team Canada, but that’s to be expected with all the projected first-round picks they had on their roster. With the way he thinks the game and the mobility he has, the NHL is not a matter of if, but when.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Kasper Puutio – NHL Draft Projection
Puttio is projected to go as low as 143rd and as high as 83rd, so basically it will all come down to which team needs skilled puck movers on their blueline. He’s also one of the coveted right-hand shot defencemen, so that could have a bearing on where he’s drafted as well. In the THW writers’ mock draft he went 106th to the New York Rangers, so expect him to be selected sometime in either the third or fourth round.
“Puutio is a slick and poised defenseman, whose best single attribute is his skating. He also operates the puck under the pressure with calmness…The Finn’s vision is strong and his passing is solid. The combination of excellent skating and vision makes Puutio’s game effective on today’s hockey standards. His anticipation is also well better than average.” – Markus Suhonen, FinnProspects.com
“Puutio is a smart two-way defenseman. He’s a very good skater and a very good puck-mover. Before this season, he was considered the best Finnish defenseman in this draft class. But his difficult season in the WHL has lowered his draft stock. There are a lot of small details he needs to work on but he has the tools to eventually become an NHL player. Coming back to Finland for the upcoming season is probably the best thing for his development but cracking Kärpät’s Liiga roster won’t be an easy thing to do.” – Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects
“The most noticeable aspect of Puutio’s game is his skating. Although he’s still learning to improve his timing in terms of defending the rush, Puutio’s mechanics are clean, and he can look either powerful or graceful when he takes the puck for a skate up the ice. He also plays physical, even more so when defending the low slot or pouncing on a puck carrier in the corner. The stats may indicate that his production was more nondescript than anything else, but keep in mind that the Silvertips not only prioritized defensive play but also had several puck movers already in the lineup before Puutio arrived. In terms of maximum upside, I can see Puutio becoming a mobile Niklas Hjalmarsson type who can anchor a middle pairing and defend the low slot at all costs with occasional rushes up the ice.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
- Hockey IQ
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Details of the game
Puutio’s game will translate very well to the NHL level. He’s mobile, smart, and more importantly, calm under pressure. These are all key ingredients to becoming a solid top-four defenceman. Like Nevalainen mentioned, he still needs to work on the details of his game, but that should come with time. With the right coaching and direction, he will be a reliable defenceman that contributes to the offence while playing in all situations.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence – 7/10
Puutio played for Team Finland in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Tournament. He also won a silver medal in the U17 World Hockey Championship during the 2018-19 season.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.