2016-17 Team: Vaasan Sport (SM-Liiga)
Date of Birth: October 13, 1998
Place of Birth:
Ht: 6’0″ Wt: 185 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW: 20
- Craig Button: 100
- Future Considerations: 34
- Hockey Prophets: 17
- The Draft Analyst: 33
Opinions on Salo are all over the map. Luckily, the solid skillset he brings to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is not. Already a veteran of 74 SM-Liiga games with a very mediocre Vaasan Sport squad, Salo played big minutes in the top Finnish league this season, including a couple of games as a forward when the team was shorthanded. Salo was a mainstay on the top pairing and responsible for shutting down the opposition’s top line. Even with the heavy minutes and difficult assignments, Salo was the top scoring rookie in SM-Liiga as well.
Fun fact: I think Robin Salo is better than Miro Heiskanen and Urho Vaakanainen. #2017NHLDraft
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) April 24, 2017
Hallmarks of Salo’s game start with responsible and effective defensive zone play. He is positionally sound and reads the play well to keep his positioning on the ice where it pushes attacking forward to the board. Salo has a smart and active stick which helps him separate the puck from the opposition. Additionally, he possesses a good shot from the point and launches the puck quickly but accuracy could stand improvement as too many pucks sail wide of the net after he finds a lane.
His decisions with the puck no matter if it is a shot or a pass are quick and his zone exit passes to move the play up ice are dependable as he generates most of his production by getting the puck to the forwards and supporting the play. Defensively Salo sticks to the system and rarely makes an ill-advised pinch in the offensive zone. The plays he does make, he is certain of which likely keeps the coaching staff happy and helps explain why he was trusted with such a heavy workload as a rookie.
The footwork of Salo is average. He gets to where he needs to be and knows where to go on the ice. It is an area of his game that he will need to work to improve, as he lacks fluid transitions. He is heavy on his skates and in the corners has good balance but adding a gear and improving edge work will only help him down the road. Salo was a member of Team Finland’s 2016 U18s WJC squad in Grand Forks, ND but was left off the 2017 U20s team. It was a curious move at the time and in hindsight, it is hard to imagine how Salo would not have helped Finland’s disastrous showing.
Robin Salo – NHL Draft Projection
Dependable and traditional two-way defender that will get little attention, which is good for a defenseman, but consistently chip in offensively.
“He’s a great player when you look at his defensive game. I think his positioning is very [good], he has good vision and he’s good without the puck. This season wasn’t that easy for him since he wasn’t in the World Juniors and his team was quite bad in [SM-Liiga]. They played really awful hockey so it wasn’t an easy place for a young kid. But all in all, I think he did a great job. I wouldn’t compare him to Heiskanen but I think there are a lot of similarities. He’s pretty good in all three zones but again his offensive upside isn’t as high as Heiskanen’s is.” – Toni Rajamäki
- Defensive reliability
- Positional play
- Underrated puck-moving skills
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Skating and transitions
- Improved shot accuracy
Salo figures to be a two-way defender that is a jack of all trades, master of none.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 5/10, Defense –8.5/10