Drafted by Montreal Canadiens in 2018 #3
- 2018-04-29 at U18 World Championships by Miika Arponen
Kotkaniemi solidified his position as one of the top centermen of the 2018 draft class. He played the whole Liiga season as a winger, and got to showcase his center abilities in the tournament. He looked very comfortable on the position and drove to the net much more aggressively than he did in Liiga.
The big-bodied forward used his size as an advantage as well while protecting the puck. He was able to dictate the pace of the game while he was on the ice, and also showed his very good vision multiple times throughout the tournament. His skating has also improved significantly, and while it isn’t elite, it certainly won’t become a problem for him either.
He also has good work ethic and doesn’t cheat on defence. All in all, a very good modern centermen with very few weaknesses.
- 2018-02-15 at Finland - Sweden, U18 Five nations by Asko Huuki
The young Finnish forward had a fine evening against Sweden as he collected four points. He got two primary assists and he showcased his sharp and precise shot by making two goals. Even though Kotkaniemi has played this season as a winger, he has played this tournament as a center. Kotkaniemi lost many face-offs during the game, but that area might improve if he would take face-offs more constantly.
I thought Kotkaniemi tried too much at the beginning of the game which might have been caused by being pointless after the first two games of the tournament. He has above average puck handling skills, but he tried way too many dekes, and his passes didn’t connect either. However after he got the first point, he started to play simpler game and begun to create scoring opportunities on more regular basis. Kotkaniemi has always been mobile, but his skating has improved and against his own age group his skating is clearly above average. He needs to improve his balance however.
While Kotkaniemi makes impressive dangles, his game is not based on flashiness. He has high work ethic and he is pretty much always the first forward who comes to help defenders. He plays solid defensive game, backchecks well and he often got the puck at the own end. He isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas either and there is a fair share of physicality in his game already.
- 2017-11-28 at Tappara - Ässät by Miika Arponen
Kotkaniemi got a lot of ice time as a second line winger and played an impressive game. In the offensive zone Kotkaniemi was constantly a threat and gave his linemates several good scoring chances. He only recorded one assist, but it could easily have been at least two more.
He was also solid in the defensive zone and has clearly gained strength lately, he was very strong in the board battles. His skating is still a bit of a concern, as his top speed is not on par with other high-end prospects. His hockey IQ and stick-handling skills compensate the skating problems a lot though.
- 2017-11-14 at TPS - Ässät, Liiga by Asko Huuki
Kotkaniemi has struggled keeping up with the pace in Liiga lately. He started the season well but he hasn’t been producing during the last 1,5 months.
Today Kotkaniemi had some good shifts too and he definitely has the talent. However his physical side is holding him back at the moment. He needs to add more strength to become better at physical play and while he is mobile, his top speed is just average in Liiga level. Combined these weaknesses resulted in unnecessary tripping penalty in offensive zone when he was left one step when he was checking.
He showed flashes of those abilities why he is highly touted though. He was able to dangle couple of times, he played quick passing game with his linemates and used his quick shot couple of times. He has also simplified his game compared to previous games when he tried to make too difficult plays. Kotkaniemi has excellent work ethic and even though his game needs maturing, he shows high hockey sense and defensive play for a player of his age.
- 2017-09-26 at HIFK - Ässät, Liiga by Marco Bombino
Kotkaniemi played slightly over 13 minutes for Ässät in a 4-1 loss to HIFK. His team’s overall performance left a lot to be desired, but the top prospect had a solid game as a left wing and received power play time.
Kotkaniemi is a skilled, deft stickhandler, possessing the ability to operate with the puck in traffic areas. He displayed impressive hockey sense and work ethic in all three zones. He is mobile for a player of his size and has already solid top speed to build on. However, he will need to get significantly stronger on the puck in the future.
- 2017-09-09 at Ässät - Ilves by Miika Arponen
Kotkaniemi had a great debut in men’s level. He had a goal and and an assists and had chances to score even more with a little bit of luck. He was able to play his power forward game even against seasoned grown-ups. He also set up his teammates several times for good scoring chances.
His two-way game was also noticeably good. He backchecked well and regularly won his physical battles. His also outskated Ilves defenders a couple of times and it seems that his skating has improved from last season.
- 2017-08-07 at Finland - Slovakia, Hlinka Memorial by Miika Arponen
Kotkaniemi played a good game against the Slovaks in the tournament opener. He flashed his individual skills a few times with flashy dangling and created scoring chances for his linemates several times. He also scored one goal in the game with a sharp one-timer wrister from the slot.
He played a very strong game physically and won his battles constantly. His skating was also clearly above-average. He sometimes tried to do a bit too difficult and over-creative things which limited his production a bit.
- 2017-04-16 at Latvia - Finland, U18 World Championship by Asko Huuki
Kotkaniemi recorded one assist to a power play goal against Latvia. Underaged forward was still mostly pretty invisible except for few flashes of smart passing play.
His young age was especially visible on physical battles. Even though Latvians weren’t the most physical competition, Kotkaniemi struggled on board battles. However he managed to beat opponents and was successful in checking with his above average stickhandling skills. Forward is mobile and agile but he could improve his top speed but that is probably something that will improve when he matures.
Kotkaniemi once again showed that he is defensively sound. You rarely see him taking unnecessary risks and he is often the first forward to help the defense. His hockey IQ is good and he positions well but he is physically yet too incomplete to be really efficient. However he should be great asset for Finnish team next year. He wasn’t able to show much his heavy but somewhat inaccurate shot in this game.
- 2017-01-06 at Tappara - Ässät, U20 by Asko Huuki
Kotkaniemi is a mobile forward with excellent work ethic. He has grown a lot during the last year even though he is still somewhat lightweight. Forward could also improve his top speed and acceleration but these aspects will probably improve when he matures.
Offensively Kotkaniemi is very gifted. He already gives excellent and precise passes, protects the puck well in tight spaces, and he was already one of the most skilled players on the ice in one-on-ones. Forward also has a quick, yet slightly inaccurate shot. He could simplify his game however as he tried to do too much on his own. He also seemed to shy away from the physical battles and relied solely on his stick in those situations.
Even though he is offensively gifted player, he seems to think about defense all the time. He doesn’t take too many unnecessary risks and Kotkaniemi was almost always the first forward from his line to help defenders. He also shows his great work ethic when he constantly tries to find open ice and made himself available to defensemen for passes. Overall his game looked really well-rounded for a player of his age.
Player statistics powered by www.eliteprospects.com
|2014-2015||Ässät U16||U16 SM-sarja Q||5||1||4||5||4||||
|Ässät U16||U16 SM-sarja||30||21||12||33||30||||
|2015-2016||Ässät U16||U16 SM-sarja Q||3||4||6||10||0||||
|Ässät U18||U18 Mestis Q||5||5||6||11||2||||
|Ässät U18||U18 Mestis||6||5||12||17||0||||
|Ässät U20||U20 SM-sarja||23||5||10||15||12||||
|Finland U16 (all)||International-Jr||11||6||6||12||28||||
|2016-2017||Ässät U20||U20 SM-sarja||17||9||6||15||18|||||Playoffs||7||4||1||5||0|
|Finland U18 (all)||International-Jr||17||5||10||15||4||||
|2017-2018||Finland U18||Hlinka Gretzky Cup||4||2||2||4||6||||
|Finland U18 (all)||International-Jr||17||8||11||19||51||||
|Finland U20 (all)||International-Jr||3||2||1||3||2||||
|Finland U20 (all)||International-Jr||4||1||1||2||8||||
Player statistics © www.eliteprospects.com