2020-21 Team: Kärpät
Date of Birth: Jun. 13, 2003
Place of Birth: Oulu, Finland
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 165 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 20th (amongst EU skaters)
- McKeen’s Hockey: 31st
- Dobber Prospects: 61st
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 65th
- Smaht Scouting: 63rd
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 94th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 50th
- Andrew Forbes’ May Rankings: 69th
Finland has been known for producing high-profile NHL players. Jari Kurri, Teemu Selänne, and Saku Koivu are some notables Finns to have made huge impacts on the North American stage. Ville Koivunen, a forward who plays for Kärpät, is tipped to be one of his country’s next greatest exports. He is already a well-known name in Finland, and his dazzling international performances have led to him being talked about on the other side of the world.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Koivunen has spent all of his club career with Kärpät, playing for the team across different age groups. He started with the U16 reserve team and recorded 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) in 25 games during the 2018-19 season. He was called up to the U16 senior team because of his outstanding points-per-game record, and he had 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists) in 18 games. The organization began to regard him as a bright young talent in Finnish hockey.
The 2019-20 season was arguably Koivunen’s strongest to date, and it helped him to draw interest from North American scouts. He registered 71 points (27 goals, 44 assists) in 37 league games, leading the league in points and goals. He also played for Finland’s national team, participating in the 2019-20 International-Jr and scoring 11 points (two goals, nine assists). The following season proved to be just as fruitful for him, as he scored 49 points (23 goals, 26 assists) and played in the WJC (World Junior Championship).
Koivunen is a versatile wing who is comfortable on either side of the ice. He scores a variety of different goals from different positions, which forces opposing defenses to keep guessing on his next move. His passing has also earned him a lot of praise, and he moves the puck with great accuracy and trajectory. He also exploits open space on the ice to create chances for his teammates, often attacking the neutral zone directly or breaking away in a one-on-one situation with the goaltender. His technical skills, reading of the play, and goal-scoring have made him into one of Finland’s best young players – and it will only be a matter of time before he can show North America why he has been on the radar.
Ville Koivunen – 2021 NHL Draft Projection
There has been some debate regarding Koivunen’s status in the draft, with some analysts believing that he could be a late first-round pick. Given that he has a “B” grade, Koivunen is projected to be selected in the second round. This would not be the worst-case scenario for him, and he may yet prove to be one of the draft’s steals.
“While there are areas of his game that need further development, one of the things that you will instantly fall head over heels for is Koivunen’s compete level. In the offensive zone, he’s shown that can be a dependable forechecker. There is a lot of aggression in his game.” – Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
“Koivunen is very good. He gets such exceptional results for having a very effective mix of skill and smarts. He has talent, and he knows how to use it to impact the play at both ends of the ice.” – Pension Plan Puppets
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
Koivunen would quite comfortably play on the top six. His offensive knowledge will make him an exciting and impactful player on the ice. He has played on the top line for most of his young career, so being a starting forward would not be new for him.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8/10, Defense – 5/10
Koivunen has won several personal accolades throughout his career. He won a U16 SM-sarja championship in 2019, leading the league in points in the process. He was named Best Forward, Best Player, and led the U18 SM-sarja in points and goals. He finished the 2020-21 season as the U20 SM-sarja Rookie of the Year.