2018-19 Team: Tappara U20
Date of Birth: January 11, 2001
Place of Birth: Tampere, Finland
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 175 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 28th (among EU skaters)
- Future Considerations: 31st
- DobberProspects: 42nd
- The Hockey Writers: 36th
- TSN Craig’s List: 88th
If there’s one prospect who’s not getting enough attention ahead of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, it’s Patrik Puistola. The left winger has made himself known internationally and in Finnish leagues with his goal-scoring abilities. He has the potential to go late in the first round at the draft but is more likely to go in the second.
Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2019 Edition
Puistola spent the past season mainly in the Jr. A SM-liiga with the Tappara U20. In 25 games he had 11 goals and 22 points. He also spent time in Finland’s top league, the Liiga, where he did seem to struggle a bit with Tappara. However, he was used as a depth player with limited minutes. He had one assist in 16 games before being loaned to the second-tier Mestis league.
In the Mestis, Puistola found his game again with the LeKi, playing in 22 games and collecting 15 goals and 26 points. Power play time and top-six minutes seem to suit him well.
Internationally, the winger has really impressed. His International-Jr career has seen him play in 48 games, collecting 22 goals and 47 points. That was over the U16, U17 and U18 level. He made the World U17 Hockey Challenge lineup, scoring two goals and six points. This past season, he stood out at the Hlinka Gretzky Memorial Cup with four goals and six points in four games. He followed that up with five goals in five games at the U18 World Hockey Championship.
Puistola can score, that’s proven in his stats. But what stands out most for the young player is how he makes it happen. Many scouts and hockey experts say that the Finnish prospect has the best hands in the draft. His puck handling is off the charts, making it seem at times that the puck is tied to his stick. He’s a very creative player, who can very easily make defenders look bad.
On the flip side, his skating is a big weak spot. His speed and stride are average at best and there will definitely be work to be done by the organization that drafts him to fix this. He has incredible talent with the puck, but his skating and play in the Liiga may see him drop a bit on draft day.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Patrik Puistola – NHL Draft Projection
Puistola is ranked all over the place, from the first round to the third. Based on that, it seems likely that he’ll go somewhere in the second round. However, there’s lots of skill to his game and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him taken near the end of the first round.
“He’s one of the best puck handlers in the draft. As a 17-year-old he made pro defenders look foolish, and he has the high level of creativity to try to make tough plays every game. He’s a good passer, but I wouldn’t call him the type who tries to find seams off the flank. Rather he relies on his creativity to find options the defense isn’t expecting and plays well in small spaces. Puistola has a good shot, too; but despite his high goal totals this season, I wouldn’t call him a sniper. He created goals with his skill and compete level. He got to the net and showed he can be a decent penalty killer. My main issue with his game is his skating. It’s not bad and he has some speed, but his stride is inefficient and can break down at times.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic (From: “Pronman’s 2019 NHL Draft Board: Top 107 prospects” – The Athletic – May 21, 2019).
“Puistola has excellent offensive skills and instincts. A pure sniper, he has an excellent wrist shot with a lightning quick release. He also has a very good snapshot and one-timer. Puistola combines his good skating ability, with quick hands and the ability to make plays at top speed. He can beat a defender one-on-one with a quick move to open up a passing or shooting lane. Without the puck, Puistola needs to get physically stronger to battle in front of the net and prefers to find open space in the slot in order to take a pass and fire it on net. With the puck on his stick, he is willing to drive to the net and has the soft hands to finish in tight.” – Benn Kerr, Last Word on Hockey
“Puistola is perhaps my most underrated prospect in this draft given his ranking in the final rankings. In my mind, he is a solid first rounder. Just watch him on tape when he has the puck. I haven’t seen many 17-year olds dangle older players the way Puistola can. He’s extremely creative with the puck. He can beat you one-on-one but is also an underrated passer. I think this ranking is due to his average skating, but he does everything else so well. He has another year in Finland with Tappara so some patience is required. But he has the tools to make someone very happy late in round one or in round two, a must-have for me.” – Mark Scheig, The Hockey Writers
- Puck Handling
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Puistola is an electric prospect, who seems destined for a top-six role in the NHL. If he can improve on his skating. He seems to lack that top gear needed for the NHL, but if the team that drafts him can help him find it, he could end up being one of the best players in this draft class.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8.5/10, Defence – 6/10
Puistola has been a regular on Team Finland for years now, with no medals to date. He was a member of the World U17 Hockey Challenge roster in 2017-18 and in 2018-19 he played in the Hlinka Gretzky Memorial Cup and the U18 World Hockey Championships.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.