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Aron Kiviharju Scouting Report: 2024 NHL Draft #24

Aron Kiviharju

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, and Frederik Frandsen 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 “NHL Draft”! Today we bring you our Aron Kiviharju Scouting Report.

One of the most unfortunate players in this upcoming NHL draft has to be Aron Kiviharju. A player who for a while was talked about as a potential first overall pick. At the start that had dropped a little but he was still viewed as a top-three hopeful. However, after just seven games for HIFK in the Finnish top division, a monumental knee injury derailed his season. He did have two points in those two games, but only just returned in time for the U18 championship. Here he had three assists in five games as the captain for Finland. A decent return, but not enough to bring him back into the top 20 on any major draft boards.

Aron Kiviharju 2024 NHL Draft Scouting Report

Defenceman — Shoots Left
Born January 25th, 2006 — Esbjerg, DEN
Height 5’10″ — Weight 185 lbs [177 cm / 84 kg]


Apart from the injuries, the main thing keeping Aron Kiviharju from being a top-five pick is his skating. At best it’s nothing to write home about and at worst is lacklustre. His strides are choppy and stiff making him unable to move fluently. The power is decent and his edges are great, creating a decent top-end speed and shiftiness, but he can be beaten in races where he realistically should be first to the puck. The acceleration lacks explosiveness and as an undersized player, you expect a more modern puck-moving defenceman. Kiviharju simply isn’t that.

However, in terms of his movement on the ice and how he does in transition, he is able to combat his weak skating with a high hockey IQ. He won’t be the player who flies up and down the ice, but he doesn’t need to be. His vision, decision-making, passing and smooth hands allow him to take full control of the breakout. He often wins the puck in his own zone and finds an outlet pass in an instance.

Offensive Game

With the weaker skating, his limited size and injuries in mind, it could surprise some to see him mentioned in the first round. However, almost everything about his game is excellent. His movement and edges allow him to command the offensive line with maturity and poise far above his years. His awareness and IQ are higher than most NHL players and he sees the game at an extremely high level. The passing is fantastic which allows him to split open defences with one smart pass.

His shot is decent although overutilized at times. For as smart a player as Kiviharju, it would be nice to see fewer shots getting blocked. However, offensively that is the only real negative. On almost every other level he is excellent as he always seems to be one step ahead of everyone. The biggest thing to watch in the coming years will be to see if he can translate his strong offensive play to production in the Finish Liiga.

Defensive Game

Kiviharju primarily is an offensive defenseman, so one could be mistaken for thinking his defensive play would be a major concern. While it has flaws physically, due to his size, his game overall is very strong. His stick is very active and his awareness and ability to read the game is once again a step ahead of everyone else. He reads the play to intercept passes or get into shooting lanes.

While he does lack size, he is fairly strong and does have the ability to compete down low with people older and larger. However, it’s not his game, and he will play more conservatively defensively, relying on gap control and his active stick to make a play.

Projection and Comparison

Aron Kiviharju is a player to watch at the NHL draft. In many ways, he might be the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in the draft. If all goes well, the upside and ceiling could take him into being a top-pair defenceman on a cup-winning team. On the other hand, injuries and lack of development in his skating could make him end up without seeing the NHL. It’s a massive high-risk, high-reward pick. But for teams late in the first round or teams in the second looking to take a shot, Kiviharju might be the perfect player to take with the chance of getting the steal of the draft.

As a stylistic comparison to Kiviharju, a lot of the skillset is similar to that of Jared Spurgeon. Both are undersized players with great hands, vision and a fantastic IQ. Moving the puck around smartly, without having elite skating. If Kiviharju can emulate the Minnesota Wild captain, while staying healthy, he would be a fantastic pick. However, it’s a pick with a lot of “ifs” attached.

Main Photo Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports


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