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Top 25U25: Otto Koivula has skill, size but lacks speed at #19

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Finnish forward Otto Koivula has the skills to be a top forward, but his skating and speed on the ice are issues going forward.

United States v Finland - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship
Here’s Otto Koivula with possible future teammate Kieffer Bellows.
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

At 19 years old, Islanders’ 2016 fourth round pick Otto Koivula already has two pro seasons under his belt with Ilves Tampere in the Finnish Liiga. He finished 5th on his team in scoring with 9 goals and 27 points in 53 games, behind 30, 25, and 21-year-old teammates. He’s a pretty big guy at 6’3”, 220 pounds, and has shown the ability to be a strong power forward and dominate competition. The biggest concern for Koivula is that his skating leaves a lot to be desired.

His production in his draft+2 year also hasn’t been great compared to some other more skilled Finnish players we’ve seen make it to the NHL, but he’s also on the younger side, and at one point in the season allegedly had 4 goals on 85 shots, or a 4.7% shooting percentage. Some bad luck may have contributed to a low scoring season, but the true test will be how Koivula performs with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this year.

Jenny Spizzwolf Noel Fogelman Travis Flynn CIL Mike B
16 18 14 18 H.M. 21
LHH HockeyGoalieEh garik16 Dominik Steve
23 20 16 17 22

Koivula will add some skill to the Sound Tigers roster, and his skating may not be as obviously an issue on smaller ice. It may not pan out for him in the NHL because of that limitation and because he hasn’t been putting up eye-catching numbers, but at 19 there’s a lot to work with in his game. At best, he seems like he’d be an interesting option in the bottom six, at worst, he’s another big body player who never quite makes it. He’s got time to develop and as a fourth round pick, he won’t have huge expectations hanging over his head in Bridgeport.

Rationales:

CIL

Koivula is a big body, but he's slow by NHL standards and his offensive upside is limited. If he were to pan out, it would be as a bottom line defensive LW; however, I think he's probably too slow for this era, even as a 4th liner. That said, I think a prospect like Koivula would normally rank in the 18-25 range. The fact he's receiving only Honourable Mention from me is a testament to the depth of this year's Top 25 Under 25.

Mike B

Koivula is a pretty big guy and has shown flashes of being too much for opponents to handle. But he may also be too slow to do that in an NHL lineup. Here's Dart #3, and who really knows now?

Previously

#20 A make or break year for Michael Dal Colle

#21 Questions about Anatoly Golyshev

#22 New left wing Blade Jenkins

#23 Switzerland’s Yannick Rathgeb

#24 Young Finn Robin Salo

#25 Solid defenseman Kyle Burroughs

The Roster Cuts