Q & A with Islanders prospect Otto Koivula
Otto Koivula. Photo courtesy of Mika Kylmäniemi
I interviewed New York Islanders’ 4th round pick from 2016, Ilves forward Otto Koivula. Koivula was awarded Rookie of the Year trophy after last season in Finnish Liiga.
How did your summer training go?
— It went well. We focused on explosiveness, which is important with skating and especially for a big player like me. It seemed to be effective too.
Do you prefer left or right wing?
— Both wings are fine. On the left it’s easier to pass to your linemates, but on the right it’s easier to challenge the defender. Last season was split in half on the left and on the right, and I produced a bit better on the right. If I had to choose, I’d play on the right.
Describe yourself as a player.
— I am an offensive player that likes to score goals and points and play with the puck. I want to play my best when the games are being decided.
Do you model your game after someone?
— I don’t try to model my game after anyone, but I think Yevgeni Malkin plays similarly than I do. He’s been my idol since I was a child, so I like to think my game is similar than his.
Scoring a goal or setting up a linemate?
— I’ve always liked both. Passing an empty net opportunity to a linemate is equally great to scoring myself. But it feels always good to put the puck in the net myself, so I choose scoring a goal.
What are the biggest flaws in your game and how are you planning to improve them?
— Skating is the biggest flaw, and technique and explosiveness the most important parts of it. If I can improve them, I can be as good as anybody. I try to develop these areas with a skating coach all the time. There’s no shortcut, just have to work.
What do you think about the Islanders as a franchise?
— New York Islanders is a great organization. I don’t know the timeframe, but they have a chance to succeed. Lots of young players that can crack the lineup as early as this season. Their future looks good.
When are you planning to move to North America?
— As quick as possible. I haven’t set any specific year as a goal, but why not as early as next year, if I’m good enough already.
How much the Islanders have been in contact with you, and who has it been?
— Primarily their director of scouting Veli-Pekka Kautonen and director of player development Eric Cairns have been in contact with me. We speak quite often, and talk about how I have played and what should I work on next.
What are your goals this upcoming season?
— My goal is to develop as much as possible and to play as good as I can. I haven’t set myself any goals for points, other than as much as possible. That is the thing I can do and how I can help my team to win. It would be great to lift the cup in both the U20s and in Liiga.
— Olympics are one goal obviously too. When the NHL players aren’t allowed to come, it would be great to represent Finland there. I’ve always watched the Olympics.
Where do you see your career in three years?
— In three years I will play in the NHL with an Islanders jersey on.
Who would you like to be your linemates from the current Islanders roster?
— I’d take John Tavares as the center and Josh Bailey to the other wing.
Some of the questions were crowdsourced from HFboards’ Islanders forum.