2015 NHL Draft Prospect Profile #9 - Mikko Rantanen
The top European forward prospect going into the draft, Rantanen might just be on the board when the Jackets go to the podium...but is he a good fit for what we need?
Current Team: TPS (Liiga)
Date of Birth: October 29, 1996
Place of Birth: Nouslainen, Finland
Weight: 209 lbs
One of the most well worn sayings in pro sports is "You can't teach size." Well, go take a look at those stats. Those are not typos - this is about the most corn-fed Finn you're ever gonna see. (Question: Do Finns even eat corn? What do they call Finns Of Unusual Size there? Herring-fed? Please let us know.) A strong playmaker who made his bones in TPS' junior program, he was getting called up for games at the top level as early as 16 before carving out a spot on their pro squad for the entire 2014-2015 season. Rantanen also represented Finland at the WJC-U20s where he notched four goals in five games.
Most scouts agree that he's at the top of the International rankings, and that he's likely to go in the later part of the top ten picks, so it's entirely possible that he'll be available when Columbus is on the clock at #8.
This is the type of guy that every team wants to have as their big power forward that they generally don't have - big-man size, high energy, high compete, high-end drive to the net, willingness to create havoc along with high-end physical skills. Yes, he will need to learn to deliver punishing body checks but that can come later. I see him as a first line power forward, most likely on the wing.
Rantanen has the potential to be the elite power forward that every NHL team looks for in the draft. He could be a top line right wing, if he develops properly and reaches his potential. While not a talent comparison, his style is reminiscent of Jakub Voracek.
A Good Fit In Columbus?
Because of his nationality and general position in the draft milieu, I suspect that most mock drafters and Hot Takery Experts are going to say, "Well, he's Finnish, and Columbus has a Finnish GM, so..." That said? They're not entirely wrong. Rantanen has a beautiful skillset already, and his NHL ready frame combined with almost three years of experience playing against top end adult talent in Europe means he's got a lot of the tools already. All the team who drafts him will need is to get him used to playing on the North American size rinks...which will make him even more dangerous to his opponents.
On the other hand, like we've said before, Columbus has a lot of exciting Forward prospects in the pipeline already - it's not the area of greatest need. But I could make a pretty good argument that they don't have a prospect who combines this kind of size and skill - Josh Anderson probably comes the closest, but Rantanen promises a much higher ceiling.
If the team has an ace (or a trade) up their sleeve to improve their D situation, Rantanen might very well find himself pulling on a Union Blue sweater next month.
Rantanen In Action