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 Aleksi Heimosalmi Scouting Report.
Playing in the Assat Pori system, Aleksi Heimosalmi was an alternate captain on the Under-20 league affiliate this past season. This shows impressive leadership qualities as he only turned 18 in May. The young defenceman put up four goals and 17 assists for 21 points in 35 games. He was held pointless in two playoff games though. Heimosalmi was part of the Finnish team at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships in Plano, Texas. He was extremely impressive, scoring two goals and six assists for eight points in seven games, leading the tournament in points by a defenceman. Heimosalmi was named a top-three player on his team, the top defenceman in the tournament, and the tournament all-star team.
Heimosalmi spent most of 2019-20 in the Finnish Under-18 league. He scored seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 25 games. He also appeared in three games in the Under-20 league. Heimosalmi was part of Team Finland at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He picked up one assist in five tournament games. According to Elite Prospects, Heimosalmi recently signed a three-year contract extension with Assat. He is expected to play in the SM Liiga next season.
Aleksi Heimosalmi Scouting Report
Right Defence — shoots Right
Born May 8, 2003 — Pori, Finland
Height 5’11 — Weight 168 lbs [180 cm / 76 kg]
Heimosalmi is an excellent skater and this forms the basis of his strong two-way game. His first step is very good, as is his acceleration. This is true in both directions. While not the fastest player in the draft, his top-end speed is very good. Heimosalmi is able to push the offence and still get back defensively. He also has very good edgework and agility. This helps Heimosalmi walk the line in the offensive zone as well as maintaining good gap control defensively. His crisp pivots allow him to transition quickly from defence to offence and vice-versa. Heimosalmi needs to get stronger though. This will improve his balance and strength on the puck. It would also help him to win battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Heimosalmi showed off his ability to drive offence at the Under-18s. He marries good stickhandling with his strong skating ability. Heimosalmi is willing to carry the puck up the ice, generating effective zone entries. He can also start the rush with a good first pass out of the zone. Heimosalmi shows poise at the blueline, controlling the puck and quarterbacking the powerplay. He has excellent vision as well as the passing skills to get the puck through tight passing lanes. Heimosalmi can make a quick lateral movement and a toe drag with his stick to open up a passing lane and set up a scoring chance.
Heimosalmi also has a decent shot, but it is not a howitzer by any means. He does a good job of moving laterally to open up shooting lanes and getting his shot on net through traffic. He also understands how to keep it low. This allows teammates to provide screens as well as to get deflections and pounce on rebounds. Heimoslami also likes to use his wrist shot, sneaking in from the point and letting his shot go from the top of the circle. It is accurate and has a decent release. He can still add power though. This may come as he continues to add muscle to his frame.
Heimosalmi’s defensive game is based on his strong skating ability. He maintains good gap control and uses his stick to knock the puck away from attackers. He does a good job of cutting off the middle of the ice and forcing his opponent to the outside in one-on-one situations. Heimosalmi’s active stick cuts down on passing lanes and creates turnovers. When a turnover is created, he can quickly move the puck up the ice. However, there are still some issues here. Heimosalmi can be overpowered by bigger and stronger opponents and this is why he hasn’t been given a chance in the SM Liiga yet. He needs to add muscle to his frame in order to contain opponents in the cycle, win battles on the boards and clear the front of the net.
Projection and Comparison
Heimosalmi has the skill to be a top-four defenceman and play in all situations if he can continue to develop his game. The main concern is his lack of size though. He needs to add muscle to his frame and get stronger in order to play this style of game against men. Heimosalmi will likely spend at least two more years in Finland, and could very well play his full three-year contract. He needs the time to mature. He could also stand to improve his shot. Heimosalmi is a bit of a long-term project but could be worth it if he reaches his ceiling. His game is reminiscent of Brian Rafalski. 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 Aleksi Heimosalmi that are available on youtube and Twitter.
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) April 29, 2021
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) May 4, 2021
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) March 3, 2021
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) April 27, 2021
— Jared Brown (@JaredBrownn97) April 26, 2021
Check back later for our latest draft article.
Aleksi Heimosalmi Scouting Report Main Photo:
Currently #45 on our #2021NHLDraft rankings, @marco_bombino analyzes Aleksi Heimosalmi with a detailed report
He capped off an impressive campaign with an excellent U18 World Championship performance, and named the best defenseman of the tournament. https://t.co/j7LUXB0b4D pic.twitter.com/YYDeQNW4kq
— McKeen’s Hockey (@mckeenshockey) June 30, 2021