With the 59th overall draft pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected 6’7, 209-pound right-shot defenceman Eemeli Rasanen of the Kingston Frontenacs.
A second round draft choice in the 2016 import draft, the hulking Finn posted 39 points in 66 games in his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League. That ranked second in the league, behind Guelph’s Ryan Merkley, in rookie defence scoring.
30 of his 39 points came on the power play; he ranked third among OHL defencemen in power play assists with 26 and four of his six goals also came on the man advantage. Overall, Rasanen produced just nine points (2g,7a) at even strength in 66 games.
McKeen’s placed Rasanen fourth-best in the “defensive defenceman” category behind Miro Heiskanen, Urho Vaakanainen and Conor Timmins in the 2017 class. The Joensuu native played on the top pairing in Kingston, taking on the top matchups most nights.
Rasanen was ranked between 42nd and 68th according to the major scouting services:
- Ranked #53 by Hockeyprospect.com
- Ranked #42 by ISS Hockey
- Ranked #58 by McKeen’s Hockey
- Ranked #32 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
- Ranked #68 by Bob McKenzie
It’s the Leafs‘ second consecutive selection of a right-handed European defenceman after selecting Timothy Liljgren 17th overall in Round 1 (a clear organizational need), although their skill sets differ a great deal.
Mark Hunter’s Take
A big, strong guy that needs to develop is body yet. He’s a little inconsistent because his legs don’t carry that big body around. But he’s got a big shot. He played top pairing for Kingston. He’s got huge upside on his skill level. Of course, he needs to get stronger physically.
Eemeli Rasanen Scouting Report
Courtesy of the 2017 NHL Draft Blackbook:
Eemeli was selected in the second round of the 2016 CHL Import Draft by the Kingston Frontenacs. He previously played for Assat U18 and U20 teams last season. He also participated in the World Under 17 Challenge. This season, Rasanen played at the Ivan Hlinka and after the season he competed at the IIHF Under 18 Championships.
Eemeli had a bit of a rough start to the season. Early on it seemed that he was struggling with the speed of the OHL and he often got himself caught out of position. He improved greatly over the course of the season. He became more comfortable and came into his own late in the year and in the playoffs. He is an exceptionally big defenseman, just a hair under 6’07” and potentially still growing. He’s a physical player who can deliver crushing checks. He does fairly well along the boards. He isn’t overly quick down there but he is imposing and has a good stick in battles. For a big defenseman, he is actually a very effective passer. He advances the puck up ice and goes D to D, but if he has no quick option, he’ll often go glass and out. He advances the puck up ice and goes D to D, but if he has no quick option, he’ll often go glass and out. He does still have his share of mental lapses with the puck, but it has improved since the early part of the season.
In the offensive zone he moves the puck well, but he also possesses a huge shot from the point. When he gets it through he is a threat to either score or create a rebound. Defensively he uses his stick well and his backwards skating improved over the the season. However, he needs to work on his pivoting; he can get crossed up facing speedy, agile opponents. He generally does fine against bigger opponents. Rasanen has taken some bad penalties in our viewings.
Eemeli has tremendous upside. He has potential to be a top-four defenseman at the NHL level. He has shown good adjustment to the North American game and has shown steady progress throughout the year. He still has his flaws and is still growing into his size. There is a bust factor that comes with the boom, but he already has plenty to his game.
Eemeli Rasanen Statistics
|2013-14||Jokipojat U16||Jr. C SM-sarja Q||7||1||0||1||2||||
|Jokipojat U16||Jr. C Mestis||11||0||9||9||6||||
|Jokipojat U16||Jr. C SM-sarja||13||6||3||9||18||||
|Jokipojat U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||4||0||1||1||0||||
|2014-15||Jokipojat U16||Jr. C SM-sarja Q||4||1||4||5||12||||
|Jokipojat U18||Jr. B Mestis||22||8||8||16||16|||||Playoffs||1||0||0||0||0|
|Jokipojat U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||15||1||3||4||10||-16|||||Relegation||3||0||2||2||0||-4|
|Finland U16 (all)||International-Jr||8||0||2||2||4||3||||
|2015-16||sst U18||Jr. B Mestis Q||7||1||7||8||2||||
|sst U18||Jr. B Mestis||8||1||9||10||6||||
|sst U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||13||0||3||3||4||||
|sst U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||4||0||0||0||4||-3||||
|Finland U18 (all)||International-Jr||4||0||1||1||2||2||||