Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his annual rankings of the top 30 draft-eligible prospects. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on June 26-27.
#10 – MIKKO RANTANEN
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images) |
Right Wing, TPS (Finland)
6’3.5”, 211 lbs.
The highly skilled Rantanen went wire to wire as the top European forward available for the 2015 NHL Draft. He doesn’t have much flash or overwhelming power to his game, but he’s developed as a smart, honest worker in all three zones with an ability to score from in tight with a quick, heavy shot.
An emerging candidate for top-line duty at the NHL level, Rantanen has honed his skills playing against men over the last two calendar years in Finland’s top professional league with TPS Turku, the same club that developed current Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
The hustling playmaker averaged over 16 minutes of ice time in his second professional season, producing 28 points in 56 games (9+19). With TPS failing to qualify for the playoffs, Rantanen was dispatched the U20 squad where he shredded the competition with six goals and 14 points in seven postseason tilts.
Many wish Rantanen would be a more imposing presence, but he actually makes the most of his physical attributes when fully engaged, proving to be a bull beneath the goal line willing to lock horns and create offense on his own.
He has shown the strength and ability to shield the puck and force his way to the net. In order to achieve his max potential on North American soil, Rantanen will need to continue lowering his shoulder more often to capitalize on his quick hands.
Rantanen doesn’t possess a mean streak, nor does it need it to succeed. His early professional resume has seen him function with consistency in a workmanlike manner against his more experienced competition. He has two years remaining on his Liiga contract, giving him a proper amount of seasoning before considering a leap to North America.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.