Veeti Miettinen is back on our list with a bump up the ranks to #17 on our Maple Leafs Top 25 Under 25.
That’s a five point move up from our last ranking for the winger who is about to start his second year playing for the St. Cloud State University Huskies, an NCAA Division I team. For those not familiar with the school, it’s in Minnesota, a short distance from Minneapolis, but a long ways from Finland where Miettinen comes from. They play in the NCHC conference which is considered highly competitive.
Miettinen had an outstanding freshman season with the team, earning 11 goals and 13 assists in 31 games played (that includes the NCAA playoff games). The list of awards he won is quite long but it’s capped off with the vote as the conference rookie of the year.
Unanimous All-Rookie Team Selection: ✅— SCSU Men's Hockey (@SCSUHUSKIES_MH) March 11, 2021
Second Team All-Conference: ✅
NCHC Rookie of the Year: ✅
This guy is pretty good, don't you think?
Congrats Veeti Miettinen on being named the NCHC Rookie of the Year!#unleashSCSU #NCHCHockey #SCSUHuskies pic.twitter.com/0YHYf68Nnf
Miettinen’s team had great success as well, rolling over their conference and then going for the national championship. They made it all the way to final by defeating both Boston College and Minnesota State University, but lost in the final to the University of Massachusetts. Still, it was a great run, and great experience for Miettinen to have as a freshman.
The fact they played a partial season in the US meant he made the highlight reels a little more often then he normally would around here, but they were good highlights.
We should have rigged the Hobey Baker Award fan vote to get him selected as a finalist like we did for Matt Frattin many years ago! Frattin is an interesting comparison as he was also a winger and had much success in college (University of North Dakota,) though he was certainly larger in size—not super big, but he was listed at 6’0 and 30 to 40 pounds heavier. Frattin actually made it all the way up to #5 on our Top 25 Under 25 in 2012, though that also speaks of how shallow the Leafs prospect pool was at that time. He eventually played in a total of 135 NHL games, which is about 100 more than I thought he did. He moved to Russia to play in the KHL a few years ago and is now in Kazhakstan playing for Barys, which, speaking of prospects from Top 25’s gone by, that’s where Jesse Blacker wound up.
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As of now, I don’t see Miettinen accelerating past that mark set by Frattin, but he could meet it, hence my placement at 20 on the list. Like Brigstew below, I have hope he can improve, and maybe match Frattin’s career path. 135 NHL games is not insignificant. That would put him in the lineup regularly for at least two or three seasons starting in 2024 if he plays through his whole college career and doesn’t turn pro earlier, but I still want to see more results this coming year before ranking him higher like I did for Nick Abruzzese, the other NCAA prospect who is playing at Harvard.
Brigstew: I just like small forwards that can rip it, okay? I had him ranked 12th because I believe in that shot, and because the games I watched of his in the NCAA last year showed a good amount of improvement on the other areas of his game that were more concerning. Now he seems a bit quicker, more assertive, more willing to go to the dirty areas. He can still be a bit too passive and too much lingering on the perimeter, but it is something his team seemed to work on with him. He played last year on their third line and powerplay unit, and led a not very offensively deep team in points and scoring as a freshman. Next year, he should get more regular playing time higher up in their lineup, and if he’s going to be a legit NCAA prospect we should expect him to take a big step forward in his sophomore season.
Hardev want’s to believe in Miettinen too.
Hardev: I want to believe the NCAA is a place the Leafs can get prospects from, and Miettinen is one of a few guys that might pan out. Abruzzese and Koster are also in this boat. On Miettinen the player, there’s no denying he has talent and flash. The problem with so many prospects is that they have lots of junior flash but can’t translate it once they lose their time and space to wind up their top speed and work in some risky dangles. You have to be sharp, quick, and efficient, and I just don’t see that from Miettinen in St. Cloud.
On the other hand, Katya hits back with some harsh truths.
Katya: Miettinen is another player I wish I hadn’t ranked. He is my poster boy for the idea of the flattening out of prospects into undifferentiated piles of good and bad. He had excellent junior results (for Finnish junior hockey) and now he’s a some kind of good offensive player in the NCAA (harder than Finnish junior, but not much harder) and so? He had a nice point total, but that gloss fades fast when you look how low he is in points per game and, more crucially, primary points per game, he’s a nice young man who isn’t in the class of players that lead the NCAA, and you need to lead the NCAA to even be a big shot in the AHL someday.
Clearly, some of us see potential for a higher ceiling, but want more proof. What we need to see this year to have his ranking go up even higher is a clear increase in ice time, showing trust from his coach, and for him to convert more of his shots to goals, or at least get more primary assists. Frattin’s points jumped 66% in his second year at UND; that’s a great goal for Miettinen to achieve now too.
The Huskies first game this fall is on October 2nd. I expect to see many more highlights of Miettinen though the whole season.