Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “2021 NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Samu Salminen Scouting Report.
Playing in the Jokerit system, centre Samu Salminen spent the season with their affiliate in the Finnish Under-20 League. Salminen scored 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points in 17 games. He also had an incredible 70.2% face-off percentage, the best in the entire league. Salminen played with the Finnish team at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He was named team captain. Salminen had an outstanding tournament with seven goals and two assists for nine points in seven games.
In 2019-20 Salminen played in 23 games in the Under-20 league. He scored seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points in that time. He also played seven games in the Under-18 league, putting up eight goals and 15 assists for an incredible 23 points. Salminen represented Finland at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored three goals and five points in five games. Salminen is committed to playing NCAA hockey for the Denver Pioneers next year. Salminen comes from a hockey family. Older brother Saku Salminen also came up through the Jokerit system, playing for the team in the Liiga and KHL. Sami Salminen played for Northern Michigan and is playing pro hockey in the Mestis.
Samu Salminen Scouting Report
Centre/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born April 9th, 2003 — Helsinki, Finland
Height 6’3″ — Weight 190 lbs [191 cm / 86 kg]
Salminen’s skating is a bit of a work in progress. He has had a recent growth spurt and it is not clear that his legs have caught up to his new height. Salminen’s first few steps are clunky and this robs him of the ability to win short races to loose pucks. He also needs to work on extending his stride and bending his knees properly. His skating is a bit too upright. This means that he lacks explosive acceleration and keeps him from reaching a high-end top speed. Salminen utilizes his smarts to be in good positions and anticipate the play in order to keep from falling behind.
Salminen’s agility and edgework are good though. His crossovers allow him to gain speed and power out of his turns as well. Salminen has good size and strength. He is strong on the puck and able to win battles on the boards and in front of the net. He utilizes this in both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. It should only improve as Salminen matures and adds muscle to his frame.
Salminen is a pure goal scorer. He has an outstanding one-timer. He is smart enough to find the soft spots in the opposing defence and set up for the shot. Salminen is able to adjust his feet and get his shot off even when the pass isn’t quite perfect. He also has a very good wrist shot with excellent power and accuracy. His release is quick and deceptive as well. Salminen can also score close to the net, with his quick hands able to pounce on rebounds as well as deflect in teammates’ shots. With his size and strength, Salminen is difficult to move out of the dirty areas of the ice. He is also good at winning battles on the boards. Salminen controls the puck down low and keeps possession in the cycle game.
Salminen is also an effective playmaker. He is a very smart player who anticipates where his teammates and opponents are going. He has outstanding vision as well as the passing skills to get the puck through tight passing lanes. Salminen’s ability to speed the play up or slow it down allows him to maintain possession on the half wall. This buys time for his teammates to get open and when they do, he is quick to create a scoring chance. The lack of explosion in Salminen’s skating means that he lacks the ability to lead the rush through the neutral zone. Instead, Salminen passes the puck to a teammate and acts as the trailer.
Salminen’s defensive game is hurt by his lack of explosive skating. He can get caught up the ice and is often the last man back defensively. Despite this, he is willing to work hard, supporting the defence down low. He effectively uses his size and strength to contain the opponent’s cycle as well as to win battles on the boards. Salminen is also good at using his long stick to cut down passing lanes. His high-end hockey IQ helps him to anticipate plays and create turnovers. Once he gets a loose puck, he can quickly start the transition game with a good first pass. Salminen is outstanding in the faceoff circle.
Projection and Comparison
Salminen has many of the tools needed to be an NHL player. He has the smarts and the offensive ability to develop into a middle-six centre. Add in his face-off prowess and it will be tough to move him out of the middle. However, the lack of dynamic skating ability hurts him. He will need to work with a good skating coach to improve this aspect of his game. If his skating improves, he can be a real steal for a time. Salminen has ideal size and works well in the dirty areas of the ice. While he has some defensive issues, most of these would be solved with improved skating ability. Salminen’s game is reminiscent of Eric Staal. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Samu Salminen that are available on youtube and Twitter.
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) May 4, 2021
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 1, 2021
And just like yesterday, Finland ties it up.
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) April 29, 2021
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) April 27, 2021
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) May 6, 2021
Watching some Samu Salminen game tape at the moment and noticed this gem of a goal celebration.
— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) June 17, 2021
— Finnish Jr Hockey Goals (@finhockeyjr) February 24, 2019
Samu Salminen (2021) added a nice primary assist on the power play in Jokerit's 3-5 loss against SaiPa in the U20 action. Salminen is now up to 8 goals and 22 points in 14 games this season. #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/YEsIkorU9M
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) October 24, 2020
Check back later for our latest draft article.
Samu Salminen Scouting Report Main Photo:
Jokerit forward Samu Salminen put up seven points (2G, 5A) in the opening weekend of the U20 SM-sarja. An impressive start for the 2021 NHL draft eligible prospect. #NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/7Kr0Xw5udV
— Finnish Jr Hockey (@FINjrhockey) September 6, 2020