2019-20 Team: Windsor Spitfires (#88)
Date of Birth: Jan. 8, 2002
Place of Birth: Turku, Finland
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 190-pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible.
- Future Considerations: 52nd
- NHL Central Scouting: 72nd (mid-term rankings)
- Craig Button: 83rd (January)
- Andrew Forbes: 93rd (March)
- Larry Fisher: 94th (March)
The Spitfires drafted Rafkin in the first round of the 2019 CHL Import Draft out of the Tri-City Storm (USHL). A native of Turku, Finland, he came advertised as a promising two-way defenceman who, while average-sized, was a complete pest to play against. He lived up to that.
Rafkin’s offence stood out almost immediately. He’s a smooth skater who finds the open man with ease. There’s no real hesitation or second-thoughts in his game. While it took him a month to get his first OHL goal, the playmaking came with no issues, earning eight assists in his first seven games. He finished with 27 assists and 31 points in 59 games, rarely going more than a couple of games without a point.
Defensively, it’s been a steady improvement. Despite his size, he’s physical along the boards, using his strength to create turnovers and cause chaos. He’s also been willing to step in to help a teammate. It’s a trait you can’t teach and is a valuable tool for the club.
While his physical play was solid, it took him time to get used to the speed of the OHL. Forwards came on him quicker than in the USHL and adjustment was necessary. Fortunately, as the season progressed, so did his speed and defensive positioning. It’s a work-in-progress, but he will get there.
Related: THW’s 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Rafkin has a good head on his shoulders and a drive to constantly improve his game. He had a solid rookie season in the OHL and will look to continue to improve in 2020-21. It’s all about the development and he’s welcoming the challenge.
While he’s not rated in the first or second rounds, he’s one to keep an eye on. As he develops his overall game, an NHL team is really going to enjoy the final product.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Ruben Rafkin — NHL Draft Projection:
Defencemen who can play reliable, physical hockey while producing offensively are always welcomed. While he’s not among the top-rated defencemen for the draft, Rafkin has shown plenty of upside and that he could be a real player down the road. There’s too much overall potential to let him slide very far. You can expect to hear his name called in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft.
“He has shown poise, puck-moving ability, and an excellent transition game. His smooth skating allows him to play in any situation” – Tony Ferrari/Dobber Prospects
“He has spent the last couple of years playing in North America and is committed to play for Windsor in the OHL next season, therefore, there won’t be many occasions to see him play on European ice in his draft season. Although he’s not the biggest in size, Rafkin is a tough competitor and physically strong defenseman.” – Dennis Schellenberg/Future Considerations (Aug 2019)
- Offensive awareness
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Defensive one-on-ones
Rafkin is the type of player that isn’t elite in any one area but does everything well. Whether you need an offensive boost or someone to grind in the defensive end, you can rely on him. If he continues to develop properly, a top-four “jack-of-all-trades” defenceman is possible.
Risk – 2.5/5; Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offence – 3.5/5 ; Defence – 3.5/5
- 2018-19 U17 WHC Silver Medal
- 2017-18 USPHL U16 Champion
- 2016-17 USPHL U16 Champion
I’m a resident of Windsor, ON and a graduate of St Clair College Journalism and New Media program as well as the University of Windsor Communication, Media, and Film program. I’ve been a junior hockey fan (specifically the Windsor Spitfires) for 30-years and have written about/photographed junior hockey since about 2005.