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Isles Snag Two-Way Defenseman in Salo

The Islanders drafted Finnish defenseman Robin Salo 46th overall

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

Robin Salo describes himself as a two-way defenseman, perhaps in the same style as Arizona's Niklas Hjalmarasson. 

That's just a point of reference though for Islanders fans unfamiliar with the Finnish blue liner, whom the Isles drafted 46th overall on Saturday. Salo said he brings his own style to the game and that being able to play in both ends is a source of pride

"I'm a two-way defenseman. I'm probably a little better in the defensive zone, a really hard player, defending well with the stick. I'm the type of player who never gives up and goes everything for my team."

That's close to how Islanders Head Amateur Scout Vellu Kautonen described Salo, who - at 18 - played 54 games for Sport Vaasa in Finland's top league SM-Liiga. Salo also has gold and silver medals from two U-18 World Championships 

"Good player with and without the puck and can be used in all game situations," Kautonen said. "Very reliable with the puck, good puck mover with a good first pass."

Video: Robin Salo Draft day

Kautonen said Salo's role with Sport Vaasa increased throughout the season and that with a 6'1, 189 lbs. frame, the 18-year-old was able to hold his own physically. He finished the season with 16 points (1G, 15A).

"He's got a good frame and competes hard, so I don't see anything negative about his game," Kautonen said. "I'm very happy we were able to get him."

Salo was the first of three straight defensemen to be drafted by the Islanders on Saturday, but unlike the 2013 draft where the Islanders exclusively blueliners, Kautonen said they were just picking the best players available. 

Salo will report to the Islanders mini camp next week on Long Island to train with the team's coaches and fellow prospects. It'll be Salo's second trip ever to New York, but he's ready to come in and work to improve his game. He figures he's still a couple years away from being NHL ready. 

"I need to get much more strength and improve my skating for the NHL, so I'm not ready yet," he said. "But in a couple years if everything goes well and I pick up the work, then I have a chance to make it."

Still, that didn't take away from the thrill of a lifetime, being drafted into the NHL. 

"It was really exciting sitting there," Salo said. "It was a really good surprise for me, I wasn't expecting to go that high, but I'm really proud that the Islanders selected me."

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