With the 177th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected 20-year old Finnish right-shot defenseman Axel Rindell of the Jukurit (SM-Liiga).

In his third year of draft eligibility, the 6’0, 176-pound Rindell showed well in the SM-Liiga against professional men in Finland with six goals and 22 points in 47 games in 2019-20. That placed him first among rookie defensemen in points scoring and top 20 in the league among all Liiga blue liners. As Thomas Drance wrote recently at The Athletic, defensemen with that kind of production in their 20-year-old seasons typically are able to break into the NHL in some capacity.

Described as a capable power-play QB with good shooting and puck distribution skills on the point, Rindell has strides he will need to make in his awareness and decision-making defensively.

Rindell would have been eligible to sign as a free agent if he went undrafted this Fall, but the Leafs now own his rights for four years as a draft selection out of Europe.

Rindell’s predraft rankings:

  • Ranked 120th by
  • Ranked 145th by Future Considerations
  • Ranked 60th by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

Director of Amateur Scouting John Lilley on Axel Rindell

Another guy we all saw playing pro. He is a 2000, so he is a little bit older. He is a little bit of a later bloomer. He had 22 points last year in the elite league. He moves the puck well and can skate well. He is another guy that we valued where we took him. We think he has upside. He moves the puck well and plays the right way.

Axel Rindell Scouting Report

courtesy of the 2020 Blackbook (buy now)

Rindell’s team, Jukurit, was also the third-worst team in Finland, winning only 11 times in 59 games. He played over 18 minutes per game and finished sixth among defensemen for shots on goal per game. He didn’t make the World Juniors’ squad in December, but he had a good showing at the November U20 Four Nations’, his lone international event this past year.

Rindell is an offensive defenseman with above-average puck skills; he loves to rush the puck from his own zone. He has fine straight-away speed and above-average agility. One thing about his puck skills, however, is that he’s inconsistent with them. He can make some real nice plays with the puck only to fumble too often in vulnerable areas. He is very confident in his good footwork, as we’ve seen his aggressive gap control on display in the neutral zone.

He’s got excellent shooting abilities from the point; he is never shy to use his hard slapper and excellent wrist shot. He scored some very impressive goals this season with these shots. He also has a very impressive release and good accuracy. His mobility helps him move laterally to find better shooting lanes in the offensive zone. He’s a good puck-distributor on the power play thanks to his good vision. He’s also poised with the puck, and his passes have good accuracy.

His work in the defensive aspects of the game will require the most work in the next few years. His one-on-one defending is average at best and playing on a bad team this season didn’t help. When things are not going well for him, there’s a clear element of panic in his game. He often seems lost and needs to make smarter decisions in his own zone, where he can be a liability and lacks the size and strength to counter.

Rindell is an interesting player despite being passed over twice before this year. We like the offensive skills he has, but he needs to put in a lot of work in his own zone and with his decision-making.

Axel Rindell Video

Alex Rindell Statistics

2014-15Blues U16 AkatemiaU16 SM-sarja91344|-
2015-16Blues U16U16 SM-sarja Q11157224|-
Blues U16U16 SM-sarja2712193135|Playoffs52130
Finland U16 (all)International-Jr21122|-
2016-17HIFK U18U18 SM-sarja4711132416|Playoffs21120
2017-18HIFK U18U18 SM-sarja44152|Playoffs60556
HIFK U20Jr. A SM-liiga4697161019|Playoffs110002-2
2018-19HIFK U20Jr. A SM-liiga50734411627|Playoffs40222-1
2019-20Jukurit U20Jr. A SM-liiga1335845|Playoffs303301
Finland U20 (all)International-Jr60224|-
Jukurit U20U20 SM-sarja201121|-