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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sami Salminen: A Guy You Should Know

For obvious reasons of access or lack thereof, European players don't get as much attention on this blog as they should.

We have access to SEL and SM-Liiga games on DVD, but there are so many prospects across the Atlantic we don't get any visuals on. Those who play in the high profile tournaments tend to get more exposure than those who do not.

For every Adam Larsson who is on everyone's radar well before his actual draft day, there is a Sami Salminen, who is a lesser known, but intriguing player who could carry some mid-round value in this class and doesn't get the attention that his peer and countryman Joel Armia does (and rightfully so because the skill level is not quite there even if he is similar kind of player).

Salminen is a horse at 6-5, 205 pounds, with lots of poundage to add on his gigantic frame. He's also having a pretty productive season for HIFK Helsinki's Under-20 team, having scored 15 goals and 36 points in 30 games. Salminen has also seen time in some international competition, having played in the Under 18 Five Nations tourney in Switzerland in December (2-1-3 in four games).

This kid is a goal scorer; he's got very quick hands, a heavy shot and the killer instinct around the net that separates the the legit finishers from everyone else. On the downside, he skates like a 6-5 kid; he's got a very slow initial first step and doesn't have great top speed, either.

"Salminen is a scoring forward," said one European-based NHL scout with an Eastern Conference team. "He has very big size that makes him difficult to move from (the)net and he's strong on his stick. He's not great skater- he needs to get quicker because he gets behind the plays."

Salminen was only the 47th-ranked European skater on Central Scouting's midterm list, but the NHL scout thinks Salminen could be higher on a few lists.

"He's so big and has very soft hands," the scout said. "If he can pick up a little speed and quickness, he could be NHL player. He needs to work a little bit harder but he's good kid."

6-5 forwards who can put the puck in the net are always going to garner some attention. He doesn't have Armia's advanced skills or mobility yet, and he's playing at a lower level. But, this is a guy worth knowing as the draft moves into the third round and beyond.

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