2020-21 Team: Jokerit U20 (Finland)
Date of Birth: April 9, 2003
Place of Birth: Helsinki, FIN
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 190 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 12th (European skaters)
- Peter Baracchini’s Final Rankings: 101st
- Andrew Forbes’ May Rankings: 44th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 46th
- Smaht Scouting: 35th
- Dobber Prospects: 37th
Salminen is the type of player that NHL scouts and general managers seek out. He is a 6-foot-3 center that can score while playing a sound defensive game. He already has the size to play in the NHL at just 18-years-old and still has plenty of time to fill out and get stronger. He has been a force in Finland, averaging over a point per game in all levels of junior hockey.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
He was promoted to Jokerit U20 in Finland’s top junior league during the 2019-20 season. He scored seven goals and 20 points in 23 games. He came up huge during the shortened 2020-21 season. He appeared in 17 games for Jokerit U20 and scored 10 goals in 26 points. He was Finland’s captain at the U18 IIHF World Junior Championship. Salminen scored seven goals and nine points in seven tournament games as Finland made it to the medal round before back-to-back losses to Russia and Sweden.
Salminen can affect a game from different areas of the ice. He has consistently won well over 50% at every level of Finnish junior hockey. He has the skill and size to score in many different ways. He is also a very smart playmaker who has no problem with facilitating his teammates. He has soft hands and an accurate shot that he uses to pick the corners of the net.
His biggest knock is his skating ability, which lacks explosiveness. This could prevent him from playing down the middle at the professional level, but he has plenty of time to improve. His defensive effort has been labeled “hit or miss,” but his length and reach allow him to get into passing and shooting lanes easily. Salminen is a very smart player who, despite his shortcomings, has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Samu Salminen – NHL Draft Projection
With his size and skill set, Salminen is on the radar of most NHL teams. He has plenty of time to work on his skating and defensive consistency. In fact, he is committed to playing at the University of Denver, starting with the 2022-23 season, which is a great program for him to make those improvements. He will likely be a second-round pick, but don’t be shocked if he sneaks into the late first round.
“Salminen has looked really good this season as he has 10+16 in 17 games for Jokerit in U20 SM-sarja. Salminen’s a 6’3” center with good offensive skills and great hockey sense. He is growing into a good two-way center but needs to really improve his defensive game, even though his effort defensively is good. He also shoots the puck well and has the ability to give creative passes. His biggest negative is his skating, which drops him a few sports at this point.” Eetu Siltanen, Dobber Prospects
“He has a good shot from the faceoff dots and he has quick hands that elevate in tight. He is very crafty around the net and can display some interesting moves as he tries to create from the net front or beside the net. When he spots an open man across the zone, he has the soft touch to feather a pass through traffic and find his teammates. He works the cycle well at the junior level and shows some decent strength around the walls but hasn’t played against men to show how he’d fare against that level like many of his European counterparts.” Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
“Samu Salminen scores a ton, scored a ton at the U18, but I’m not sure the offense follows him to the NHL. His body weight gives him speed generation with his turns, but his pace, skill, and straight-line speed, are questionable. His sense of awareness and ability to make simple, no-nonsense plays that put points on the board is what drives his production, but I’m not surprised there’s a bit of a mismatch between his placement on rankings and his production/size profile.” Will Scouch
- Hockey IQ
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Defensive Consistency
Salminen’s size, smarts, and hands are going to get him plenty of chances to make an NHL roster. Whatever team drafts him will do so knowing he is at least two seasons away from even considering turning pro. If everything pans out right, there is no reason why he can’t top out as a second-line center who can be depended on to produce offense at 5-on-5 and on the power play.
Risk – 3/5 | Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10 | Defense – 5/10
Salminen was named to the 2018 U16 Pohjola Camp All-Star Team. In 2019, he won a U16 SM-sarja Silver Medal along with a U18 championship, all with the Jokerit organization. He had the best faceoff win percentage during the 2021 U18 World Junior Championship at 70.21%.
Samu Salminen Statistics
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.