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Toronto Maple Leafs prospect report: Eemeli Rasanen is pretty fun to watch

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I went to the game to give the Leafs biggest prospect the ol’ eye test.

Aaron Bell / OHL Images

Eemeli Rasanen told EOTP writer Scott Malta at the draft combine “I like hit people”. I went to the Frontenacs / IceDogs game on Friday night to see if this was true with the much maligned eye test.

It is.

Whenever the IceDogs got too close to the Fronts net, or when he had an opportunity to smear someone along the boards he took it. That’s not to say that’s his entire game. The 6’7” 226lb defender does his fair share of hitting, but he has defensive moves as well. On the penalty kill Rasanen guards the blue line like a seasoned vet, not allowing anyone to get far enough away from him to escape a bear hug if he wanted to give one. On the power play he’s at the point keeping the pucks in no problem, and he has a hard enough shot to literally knock opposing players off their feet.

He skates like a big man, that is to say it looks laboured and slow, but as he needs fewer strides he keeps up with the speediest forwards. His shots were mostly on target, hitting the goalie more than missing the net. He’s not an Erik Karlsson for sure, but contributes on the back end. seven of his assists are secondaries, half of his points are primary assists and goals.

So what makes a player like this tick? I tried my best to find out after the game. I prepped lots of quality questions to ask him.

Q: Did you get up to any shenanigans in Niagara Falls during camp?

Q: Why did you pick the OHL over the USHL (drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers) or staying in Finland?

Q:Our readers sent in some questions, if you don’t mind answering them...

Q: The first one is, “Why are you so tall”?

Q: Okay, the next is “How did you get so big?”

Q: I apologize for our readers.

However, Eemeli left the game early in the third period after taking a hit to the head that would keep him out of the rest of the weekend’s games. He wasn’t up to talking after the game so I spoke briefly with Frontenacs head coach Jay Varady about Rasanen.

Q: So how has Rasanen’s defensive play been this year, coming out of Leafs camp?

A: He’s bene really good. He’s one of the guys we depend on in every situation. He’s one of our top minute guys, obviously he plays against other teams top players as well.

Q: Is there anything he needs to work on this year?

A: You know, for a player of that size, for a young player, pace is a big thing. You just have a lot of body to move around out there, and if you watch other young defensemen that are that big it just takes them longer to develop and pace is a big part of that.

Q: When we were at the draft combine he told another of our writers “I like hit people”, is physicality a big part of his game, a big part of how he’s used, or is it just something he likes to add in for fun?

A: I think it’s personal preference to him, if you watched him tonight you saw he wasn’t shy to give it to anyone. If it’s him giving a hit or taking a hit, he doesn’t shy away from anything.

See you in January Eemeli.

Ontario Hockey League

#77 - Eemeli Räsänen (D) - 0G, 0A, +2
Kingston Frontenacs - 12-7-1-2

Nov. 16th: @ Niagara IceDogs
W 4-2 - 0G, 0A, +2
Nov. 17th: vs Hamilton Bulldogs
W 3-2 - Did Not Play
Nov. 19th: vs Ottawa 67’s
L 4-2 - Did Not Play

#55 - Keaton Middleton (D) - 0G, 1A, +3
Saginaw Spirit - 9-9-3-0

Nov. 17th: @ London Knights
L 4-3 OT - 0G, 0A, +1
Nov. 18th: vs Owen Sound Attack
W 5-3 - 0G, 1A, +1
Nov. 19th: vs Erie Otters
W 3-1 - 0G, 0A, +1

The Spirit won two in a row, both against a couple of the best teams in the west.

Fedor Gordeev (D) / #52 - Nicolas Mattinen (D)
0G, 1A, -2 / 1G, 3A, +3
Flint Firebirds - 7-13-2-0

Nov. 15th: vs Sarnia Sting
W 5-3 - No Points / 0G, 3A, +3
Nov. 18th: vs Erie Otters
L 5-2 - 0G, 0A, -1 / 1G, 0A, -2
Nov. 19th: vs Owen Sound Attack
L 6-4 - 0G, 1A, -1 / 0G, 0A, +2

Mattinen is on his way to a career year points wise, while Gordeev is doing his best on the last place Firebirds. Flint did however, beat the best team in the OHL on the 15th.

Ryan McGregor (F) - 1G, 2A, +1
Sarnia Sting - 18-4-1-0

Nov. 15th: @ Flint Firebirds
L 5-3 - 1G, 0A
Nov. 17th: vs Windsor Spitfires
W 6-3 - 0G, 1A, +1
Nov. 19th: @ Guelph Storm
W 4-3 OT - 0G, 1A

Despite losing to the Firebirds of all teams, the Sting continue to own the top of the OHL standings.


Western Hockey League

#33 - Ian Scott (G) - 139sv, 156sh, .891sv%
Prince Albert Raiders - 9-10-3

Nov. 14th: @ Seattle Thunderbirds
W 6-4 - 26sv, 30sh, .867sv%
Nov. 15th: @ Everett Silvertips
L 2-0 - 40sv, 42sh, .952sv%
Nov. 17th: @ Tr-City Americans
L 4-1 - 32sv, 36sh, .889sv%
Nov. 18th: @ Spokane Chiefs
L 7-0 - 41sv, 48sh, .854sv%

Scott came down to earth a bit, but the 2500km road trip into Washington is one that I would be dead from the bus ride as well.


Junior A

#24 - Ryan O'Connell (D) - 2G, 2A
Penticton Vees, BCHL - 14-5-1-2

Nov. 15th: vs Surrey Eagles
W 7-1 - 1G, 1A
Nov. 17th: @ West Kelowna Warriors
W 11-3 - No Points
Nov. 18th: vs Cowichan Valley Capitals
W 10-1 - 1G, 1A

O’Connell will be trying out to play for Team Canada West in the 2017 World Junior A Challenge, at their camp in Calgary from Dec. 2-5. The WJAC is a December tournament that deatures two Team Canada’s (East and West) facing off against the Cezch Republic, Russia, the United States, and Switzerland. This years tournament takes place in Truro, Nova Scotia from December 10th to December 16th and is for players 19 and under.


NCAA

#13 - Nolan Vesey (F) - 0G, 0A, -2
Maine Black Bears
Overall: 4-6 / Conference: 3-3

Nov. 17th: vs Boston University
W 5-2 - No Points
Nov. 18th: vs Boston University
L 7-0 - 0G, 0A, -2

The Black Bears are doing pretty well at being 3-3 in their conference considering the past few seasons.

#14 - JD Greenway (D)
Wisconsin Badgers
Overall: 8-5-2 / Conference: 3-2-1

Nov. 17th: vs Michigan
W 7-3 - Did Not Play
Nov. 18th: vs Michigan
T 4-4 - Did Not Play

Bad news: Greenway still hasn’t played a game, but there is good news!

#31 - Joseph Woll (G) - 47sv, 49sh, .959sv%
Boston College Eagles
Overall: 8-5-1 / Conference: 8-1

Nov. 17th: @ New Hampshire
W 4-1 - 26sv, 27sh, .963sv%

Nov. 18th: @ Northeastern
W 3-2 - 21v, 23sh, .913sv%

Woll had a great weekend at Boston College, including the crazy save up above. He should get the starters job for the US at the World Juniors, if not, then we know the World Cup management is at it again.

#8 - Dakota Joshua (F)
Ohio State Buckeyes
Overall: 6-3-3 / Conference: 1-3

No games last week.


Prospects points tracker

Player League Points Games PPG NHLe
Player League Points Games PPG NHLe
Dakota Joshua (F) Big 10 24 30 0.80 22.96
Nolan Vesey (F) Hockey East 25 37 0.68 20.50
Ryan McGregor (F) OHL 29 47 0.62 16.19
Ryan O’Connell (D) BCHL 12 23 0.52 9.84
Eemeli Räsänen (D) OHL 30 59 0.51 13.34
Nicolas Mattinen (D) OHL 29 62 0.47 12.27
Keaton Middleton (D) OHL 23 61 0.38 9.89
Fedor Gordeev (D) OHL 23 64 0.36 9.43
JD Greenway (F) Big 10 3 12 0.25 7.18