Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his rankings of the Top 30 draft-eligible prospects of 2016. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center here in Buffalo on June 24 and 25.
#3. Jesse Puljujarvi – RW, Karpat (Finland)
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images) |
A versatile, polished forward with good playmaking instincts and a highly developed two-way sense, Puljujarvi recently completed his second season of professional hockey with Karpat in Finland’s top league, amassing 13 goals and 28 points for the league’s second-place club.
He was even better when playing against his peer group, scoring five goals and a tournament-best 17 points in host Finland’s seven-game cruise to the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Puljujarvi has NHL size with a long reach that lends well to a possession game, but he’s very smooth and nimble when skating with the puck. He finds his teammates with soft passing hands and quick decision-making skills, and can quickly generate power when given a path to the net.
Overall, Puljujarvi has proven to be a very consistent three-zone contributor on a game-to-game basis. The recent track record should see him compete for NHL employment immediately out of the gate.
If there is one area of Puljujarvi’s game that scouts want to see become more developed, it would be his physical play. Given his size and speed, he’s capable of cancelling out his checks on a more regular basis.
This likely will become an emerging feature of his game when transferring to the smaller North American rinks, as his natural gifts will breed an ability to close quickly on defenders and force them into uncomfortable outlet decisions, be it up the middle or along the boards.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline and an updated organizational depth chart, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).