The Edmonton Oilers have solid centre depth throughout their organization, thanks to a number of talented forwards and up-and-coming prospects. One of those big-name forwards who is sure to have an impact at the NHL level is Aapeli Rasanen.
Edmonton took Rasanen in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, citing his upside and playmaking ability. In his pre-draft year playing with the Jr. A SM-Liiga’s Tappara U20 team, posting 19 goals and 38 points through 50 games.
This past year, he came to North America to play in the USHL. In 38 games with the Sioux City Musketeers, the 19-year-old registered seven goals and 25 points and was an outstanding plus-21. He also played 13 playoff games with Sioux City, racking up two goals and four points.
In addition to his USHL campaign, Rasanen also played international hockey for Finland’s U-20 team. In six games at the U20 World Junior Championship, he had two goals and six points in six games, and in 16 international junior games with Finland, Rasanen recorded five goals and 10 points.
The Finnish faceoff-man will play NCAA hockey with Boston College this season and will look to continue scoring and putting up strong numbers as he moves up the ranks.
Rasanen is a solid two-way centre who plays well with and without the puck. He also plays well at both ends of the rink, taking his time and handling the puck well. In addition, Rasanen is able to get to the right places and move the play up the ice and makes his teammates better. With his hockey sense and vision, he knows exactly where to go and how to score. In addition, he has an accurate and lethal shot and is a solid passer.
However, there are areas that he needs to grow in. The 6-foot, 196-pound forward isn’t the biggest player, and this can hurt his ability to stack up well with his opponents, especially as he moves up the levels of professional hockey. In addition, while he plays a solid defensive game, he needs to improve his skating and speed and could stand to add more physicality to his game.
Overall, Rasanen is still developing and continues to trend in the right direction. As he prepares to head to the NCAA, he will likely work on the weaker areas of his game and add more edge. Still, he is an asset to the organization and is just one reason that the Oilers’ organization depth down the middle is so strong.