Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft: 5 Sleeper Picks

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C/LW Janne Kuokkanen – Karpat Oulu U20, Jr. A SM-Liiga

To start things off, we won’t go too deep into the draft just yet. Janne Kuokkanen is the 20th European skater on NHL Central Scouting’s final list, but he could — and probably should — be selected long before many think. Kuokkanen could be this year’s Sebastian Aho, who also spent his junior career in Oulu, and was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.


"Tall, lean puck distributor who we expect to beef up when it’s time to make the jump to North America. Kuokkanen is a highly-cerebral player, using patience and precision passing to carve up any defensive scheme. He’s been a star for Finland in the international circuit, culminating with a superb performance and a gold medal at the U18 World championship. His instant chemistry with Jesse Puljujarvi is something to keep an eye on — both should play for Karpat if Puljujarvi decides to stay in Europe."

Janne Kuokkanen had 22 goals and 53 points in 47 games this season, and showed how much of an offensive threat he is. If Finnish junior hockey doesn’t convince you, he also played one game in the Mestis, Finland’s second-tier professional league, and scored a goal and an assist. Still not convinced? Kuokkanen gave his Liiga debut for Karpat this season and scored two goals in one game.

To round out the season, Kuokkanen won gold at the Under-18 Worlds, playing on a line with projected top-three pick Jesse Puljujarvi. Kuokkanen had three goals and seven points in the tournament.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a team used their late first-round pick on Kuokkanen. If he falls to the third round, he will be a big-time steal. This is the kind of moment where losing a 33rd-overall pick hurts again.

Next: D David Bernhardt