THUNDERBIRDS

T-Birds select Finnish forward Sami Moilanen in CHL Import Draft

Jun 29, 2016, 3:40 PM

In Tuesday’s annual CHL Import Draft, the Thunderbirds selected forward Sami Moilanen of Finland with the 49th overall selection.

Seattle initially held the 52nd pick in the draft, but three teams passed before the Thunderbirds’ turn.

Related: T-Birds GM Russ Farwell discusses plans for the offseason

Moilanen recorded 35 points on 21 goals and 14 assists in 38 regular season games playing for Jokerit U20 in the Jr. A SM-liiga. Moilanen, who turned 17 in January, was playing against competition significantly older than him.

According to scouting service Overtheboards.net, Moilanen offers tremendous offensive upside.

“Moilanen is a smaller, highly energetic forward who certainly plays bigger than his size,” reads the website. “He works hard on the forecheck and isn’t afraid of throwing his weight around in the corners. Moilanen is a strong skater with very good acceleration. He keeps his feet moving and he’s got the skills to handle the puck at high speed.”

Overtheboards.net went on to say that while he is a great skater, Moilanen still has some work to do with regards to his ability to finish.

“He lacks some creativity at times in 1-on-1 situations,” it reads. “He has good instincts in the offensive zone and is able to find open space, but he’s not always the best finisher. He does have a good, quick wrist shot, but given the chances that he had in some games, he could have had even more goals.”

Somewhat undersized at 5 foot 9 and 175 pounds, Moilanen will be eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Most expected Seattle to find a defenseman in the Import Draft, as the selection process provides one of very few ways to add an instant impact player without having to give anything up. Given that Seattle lost its top defensive pairing from last season and a very good goalie, help on the blue line seemed like the obvious choice.

However, Seattle will also have some production to replace up front with the loss of Ryan Gropp, and it sounds like Moilanen is a player whose high-level skating will allow him to make up for some of what was lost with Gropp’s departure.

With a deep group of both young and veteran forwards, it now appears that Seattle will need to move at least a couple of them – perhaps for help on the blue line – in order to have enough ice time to go around.

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