It’s that time of year again – the SB Nation NHL mock draft! Every year, SB Nation has the NHL sites do a mock draft in the weeks leading up to the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, and your team at Japers’ Rink is on the clock.
With the benefit of hindsight, the Japers’ Rink team has done a decent job in past years. In last year’s mock draft we chose Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the 11th overall pick, after trading Philipp Grubauer and our first-round pick to the New York Islanders.
In reality, Kotkaniemi went third overall to Montreal, and the Capitals took Alexander Alexeyev with the 31st overall pick. Grubauer and Brooks Orpik were actually traded to the Colorado Avalanche for their second round pick, which we used to take Kody Clark at no. 47.
Lacking a pick in 2017, we chose Alex DeBrincat with the 26th pick three years ago – DeBrincat was actually (foolishly) passed over in the first round and dropped to Chicago with the 39th pick, while the Caps took Lucas Johansen (a fine young lad).
The year before that, we picked Julius Honka with the 13th overall pick. In reality, Honka went to the Dallas Stars with the 14th-overall pick, and the Capitals selected Jakub Vrana. (Looking back, we’re pretty okay with getting that one wrong after Vrana’s stellar season this year.)
In 2013, we selected J.T. Compher with our 23rd pick, but he was ultimately drafted 35th overall by the Buffalo Sabres. Instead, the Capitals opted for Andre Burakovsky, who went 20th overall to the San Jose Sharks in the mock draft.
The year before that, we had not one, but TWO first round picks. With the 11th and 16th picks, we chose Zemgus Girgensons and Pontus Åberg. In the actual 2012 draft, the Capitals selected Tom WIlson with the 16th overall pick and [redacted] with the 11th overall pick.
And last, but certainly not least, we took Brock Nelson with our 26th overall pick in 2010. Nelson actually went to the Islanders with the 30th overall pick and the Capitals took Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was selected by the 24 overall pick in the mock draft by the Atlanta Thrashers.
So, in retrospect, we’ve never actually been right! Whatever. That’s the past, we’re moving on now.
So...with the 25th pick of the 2019 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, Japers’ Rink is proud to select, from LeKi of the Mestis league in Finland, Patrik Puistola.
Here’s the TLDR on Puistola: he’s a talented winger out of the second-tier league in Finland, Mestis. Puistola is said to have some of the best hands in the 2019 draft class, but is somewhat lacking in defensive and skating abilities. Still, his strong showing for LeKi warrants a serious look at his abilities moving forward.
Your resident draft expert admittedly has little background knowledge on Puistola and is incredibly preoccupied with the Boston Bruins potentially embarrassing her (it is June 9th at the time of writing this), so it’s better for everyone if we turn to the actual experts.
Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “He’s one of the best puck handlers in the draft. As a 17-year-old he made pro defenders look foolish, and he has the high level of creativity to try to make tough plays every game. He’s a good passer, but I wouldn’t call him the type who tries to find seams off the flank. Rather he relies on his creativity to find options the defense isn’t expecting and plays well in small spaces. Puistola has a good shot, too; but despite his high goal totals this season, I wouldn’t call him a sniper. He created goals with his skill and compete level. He got to the net and showed he can be a decent penalty killer. My main issue with his game is his skating. It’s not bad and he has some speed, but his stride is inefficient and can break down at times.”
Scott Wheeler, The Athletic: “Puistola is a blow-you-away-in-a-split second kind of talent. He can flat out break teams down and when it happens it can blow you away (and blow a puck past a goalie). His biggest challenge is that he’s only ever going to be exactly that kind of player and those kinds of players require two things:
Inherently, that means there’s risk involved. Puistola’s not going to be a checker. Still, if he can continue to develop within the right organization, there’s serious upside to his game.”
Elite Prospects: “We find Puistola to be a very interesting player, even when we catch him in games where he makes several mistakes we keep liking his offensive instincts and long-term potential.”
Top Shelf Prospects: “Patrik Puistola could develop into a scoring winger at the next level. His points-per-game in the Mestis was one of the best seasons ever for a teenager in that league. Offensively he has nearly all the tools necessary to succeed. However, he will need real work on his defensive game in order to avoid being a liability on the ice. He seems to work hard in games and if that work ethic translates to practice this is something that can be coached. In terms of style, Puistola resembles Phil Kessel. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.”
The Draft Analyst: “A tricky winger with the puck on a string and a loaded arsenal of ways to beat you, Puistola is one of those rare pre-draft prospects that prove they are too good for both the junior leagues and the adult-age second tiers throughout Europe. He’s a dangler who can create his own shot (and a fine, accurate shot it is). Puistola is a very good skater and is to be considered a breakaway threat, but it’s his agility and escapability in the neutral that separate him from atypical draft-eligible goal scorers. Puistola is a smart kid who is used in any situation, to include the penalty kill, where he is an obvious threat to score. There isn’t much an opposing coach can do to slow down his scoring chances, but Puistola ups the ante late in games by becoming a playmaker and rocking defenders to sleep with pump fakes and slap passes. He hustles and works hard but lacks in the physicality department; something NHL coaches are good at addressing.”
FinnProspects, Lassi Alanen: Puistola has gained a lot of respect from LeKi’s coaches over the course of the season and he was on the ice during every key moment of the game. In this game, Puistola played a lot without the puck which is not his strong suit, but in a couple of situations, he was able to flash high-end skill and vision. Puistola could use an extra gear, but I think that his skating is overall pretty solid. He has also a very dangerous wrist shot off the rush and on the power play.
Some NHL scout: “He’s highly skilled. He competes hard and isn’t afraid to get inside. He’s not slow, but there is a lack of quickness in his game.”
Well, there you have it folks! For more info on Puistola, check out this write-up by our friends at Habs Eyes on the Prize.