With the 168th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected 5’9, 159-pound Finnish right winger Veeti Miettinen of Kiekko-Espoo U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga).

One of the oldest members of the draft class with a September 20, 2001 birthdate, Miettinen was ranked inside the top 100 by McKeen’s and well inside the top 100 by Elite Prospects:

  • Ranked 67th by
  • Ranked 69th by Future Considerations
  • Ranked 95th by McKeen’s Hockey
  • Ranked 72nd by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

A St. Cloud State University commit (the NCAA schedule is currently on pause) awaiting his Visa clearance, Miettinen tore up the Finnish junior A league with 42 goals and 73 points in 53 games in 2019-20 — an all-time goal-scoring record in Finnish junior history, set in a league he was only playing in to preserve his NCAA eligibility.

This pick is a dice roll on raw offensive upside, as Miettinen owns an elite tool: The 2020 Blackbook described Miettinen’s shot as top 10 in the entire draft class. However, he has work to do on his strength and physical frame (5’9 is a generous listing of a player who is closer to 5’8 or 5’7) as well as his skating, which is described as good but not great to the point where he lacks separation speed.

Director of Amateur Scouting John Lilley on Veeti Miettinen

He played Finnish junior and scored a lot. He is a good goal scorer. He is committed to St. Cloud in the NCAA. He is waiting on his visa, so he not actually playing right now. We saw him numerous times with his club team but also he plays in national team games as well.

Veeti Miettinen Scouting Report

courtesy of the 2020 Blackbook (buy now)

Veeti Miettenen has had a record-breaking junior career in Finland. A product of the Espoo Blues system, he had a remarkable 61 points in 48 games, including 27 goals last year. In the playoffs, he went a point per game that same season.

This past season, it was much the same with Veeti except on one of the bottom two teams in the entire league. He finished with 72 points in 52 games, including 42 goals. His goal output gave him the all-time goal record in junior history, and he did it on a horrible team. The next highest scorer on his team finished with 49 points and was the only other ppg+ player. With the Blues U20, he averaged the highest shots on goal rate out of any draft-eligible forward, clocking in at roughly 5.70 shots, and played approximately 21 minutes per game.

An interesting note on his season was that he had no business being in a junior league. However, to keep his NCAA eligibility, he couldn’t play up in Liiga at the pro level. Internationally, he was featured at the U18-Five Nations last year and at the U18s as well. He flashed his talent at both events and had one very memorably performance for us at the Five Nations specifically. This past season, he played at the U19 event in February and did well there.

Veeti Miettenen is a dynamic, high-octane sniper who has developed a very good pace off the puck. There are two players who are under 5’9 and really stand out as grade-A talents. One of them is Zion Nybeck. The other is Miettenen. We have Veeti higher ranked, though, because of his positive development curve compared to Zion’s. Last year, Miettenen wasn’t as engaged off the puck and lacked some of the power he now has displayed out on the ice. He always had the talent, but now he has the play off the puck to go with the talent.

In Zion’s case, the talent is there, but the pace and skating never caught up over the course of the season. The theme of this draft really is the shooting talent. It’s an unbelievable draft for quality shooters, so when we say Veeti is a legitimate top-10 shooting talent, you know his shot is something special. It is remarkable how fast and how powerful the puck comes off his stick considering his size and weight.

The mechanics start with his footwork. He has some of the best footwork in his release in the draft. When we’re discussing footwork, we’re referring to how quickly a prospect can transfer between their legs, while simultaneously rotating through their upper frame and into their shot extension. The ability to shoot while masking the placement behind his skating allows for his release point to be difficult to read for the opposing netminder.

One goal specifically against Ilves highlighted this. He split between two players while cutting through the right circle while skating east-west, then used three steps before shooting a perfectly placed wrist shot. His steps are so rapid because of his foot speed that he can blend them seamlessly into transferring his weight to the inside of his shot motion. His goal-scoring output wasn’t just a result of his excellent body mechanics, though. It’s a byproduct of being able to hide his release point behind screens and look off his shooting options. This extends into his slapshot, which can look like Viktor Arvidsson’s when he loads up on it during the man advantage, or when he’s stepping into it.

Veeti’s hands and playmaking ability lag behind his shot, but there are still positive attributes. We’ve seen him beat opponents clean with a good amount of hand speed, but he primarily beats guys while remaining in one position with his hands. This is fine for bigger players, but given Miettenen’s size, he needs to be able to shift his body positioning, while simultaneously using his hands — much in the same way Quinton Byfield and Jack Quinn do. One aspect of his playmaking is that he certainly has some tunnel vision. That said, he was the go-to option for his team, and when you have a shot like he does, we give him some leeway.

Miettenen can make some dynamic plays when he’s on his game, but there is also a potential stopper. Much in the same way that Nybeck has a potential stopper with his skating, so does Miettenen; it’s just less pronounced in Veeti’s game since he plays at a higher and more consistent pace than Nybeck did in our viewings. His skating mechanics are above average, although he has to understand how to gain momentum within his upper frame. The biggest problem is that despite pretty decent mechanics and some power, he’s still unable to separate at the Jr. level often. He’s listed at 5’9, and if that was the case, we wouldn’t be as critical, but we really believe that Veeti stands 5’7 — if that. When we grade and project a winger who looks to rush and shoot the puck like Miettenen does, his game is going to have to rely on some separating speed, which can’t happen with a 5’7 skater who we give a skating grade of 6.

There is some optimism, though. He does have some fast-twitch in him that gives him some power as of this writing. However, he is one of the older players in the draft, which we factor in when determining long-term strength. He needs a significant increase in power in order for his game to translate to the next level. If he can gain better separating speed, the talent and attack mentality is already there. He also improved steadily over the last two years off the puck. He was known to us as primarily an offensive threat who didn’t have multiple dimensions, but that changed this past season. He was more responsible and showed good anticipation off the puck, which is going to be very important for him when he plays against bigger and stronger players next season.

We love aspects of his game, and if everything goes right, he has the potential to be a top-six scoring winger that you can slot in on a top power play. However, there’s a ton of risk when projecting a 5’7 player who has good but not great skating, and good but not elite power.

Veeti Miettinen Video

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