Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft Profile: C Otto Somppi

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Unfortunately, the 2015-16 season was cut short for the Vancouver Canucks, which means we have a long offseason ahead of us. Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the time to prepare next season’s roster, and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will certainly play an important part in that process.

Vancouver started off strong in the fall of 2015 but ended the season with a thud. Thanks to their abysmal 28th rank in the league standings, the Canucks owned seven picks early in each round. That changed after trading the second and fourth-round selections to the Florida Panthers, but who knows what will happen on draft day to get those back. Benning did a great job in his first two years at the job and another successful draft could certainly help boost the rebuild.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming event by profiling as many draft-eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

Under the microscope today: QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads center Otto Somppi.

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Name: Otto Somppi

Position: Center 

Shoots: Left

Height, weight: 6’1”, 183 lbs

Team/League: Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

Stats (from 







NHL CSS Ranking: 78th (North American Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2/5, 3/5

NHL-potential: Bottom-Nine Center

Draft Range: Third to Fourth Round

Scouting report

"Quebec league import with high skill and puck-handling ability. Has the skill to wiggle and weave through traffic and make plays. An early season shoulder injury stalled his progress a bit. An aggressive push the pace set-up man who always is trying to get the opposition on their heels. He is quick and tenacious on the forecheck, pressuring opposing defenders into the bad puck decisions. He has a good shot which he releases quickly, and good touch when in close. Gets back his defensive zone and works hard to break things up and provide backside pressure away from the puck. Developmental centre-forward who needs to get thicker and be able to anchor down and hold possession. (Bill Placzek,"


Otto Somppi is a Finnish import who excels as a two-way center who puts special emphasis on defensive reliability. That said, there is some offensive upside there as well, as Somppi possesses good vision and playmaking ability. Judging by his junior performances in both Finland in Canada, however, he projects as a bottom-six two-way center. With a bit of luck, he could see second-line minutes one day as well.

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Somppi’s biggest offensive assets are his playmaking skill and vision. When he plays on a line with players who are more gifted offensively, he does a great job distributing the puck to them. Somppi sees the ice well and plays accurate passes as soon as lanes open up. He is not a big finisher, but he knows how to set up players who are, which shows in the assist department.

While Somppi is not the most flashy player, he has the skill and frame to succeed against big opponents. He utilizes his 6-foot-1, 183-pound frame well to protect the puck. Somppi is not someone who dekes around defensemen before setting up a big scoring chance, but he makes sure he keeps the puck until he finds an open teammate. In board battles, Somppi uses his body to his advantage, even though he is not the biggest or strongest player.

In the defensive zone, Somppi is always aware of what’s going on around him, and he understands his responsibilities. He displays great vision and positioning when he intercepts passes or blocks shots. Somppi can force turnovers through engaged play in all three zones. Furthermore, he is strong in the faceoff circle and, overall, should be a great possession player at the next level.


Somppi might still grow an inch or so, but he is not exactly big compared to other defensive-minded forwards. Getting bigger and stronger should help his physical game which is one of his big weaknesses right now. Somppi does not embrace physical play, which might be a result of his development in Europe. Even when he does try to be physical, he shows a lack of strength and ability.

In the QMJHL, Somppi looks fine as a complementary player for skilled forwards, but it is questionable if he can be that at the pro level. His defensive ability and 200-foot game are things that should get him to the NHL, but he likely won’t be more than a bottom-six forward.

One of the reasons for that is his weak shot. Somppi can score on a dirty rebound every once in a while, but you won’t find him firing pucks top shelf from the top of the circles. He scored 13 goals in the QMJHL this season, but likely won’t get that number up much higher, especially not in the NHL. His shot lacks strength and accuracy, and he doesn’t seem to be too confident in it anyway.

Final Thoughts

Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said in a Sportsnet interview that he would like to acquire another third-round pick. Chances are, that pick won’t be higher than Vancouver’s current 64th selection, so it would be in a range where Somppi is a justifiable pick. As a strong two-way center with some offensive upside as a playmaker, there should be a team that is willing to pick him up in the third round.

Surprisingly, many teams go for low-risk, low-reward picks in the early rounds and leave players with some elite traits but holes in their games for rounds four and after. Somppi certainly qualifies as a low-risk, low-reward player, as his playing style could definitely take him to the NHL, just not as a top-six player. If the Canucks are fine with that, they should definitely consider him.

Next: More 2016 NHL Draft Profiles

That said, Vancouver might want more of an impact player in the third round, as they are far behind other rebuilding teams, regarding the amount of draft picks they currently own. The Buffalo Sabres, for example, have 11 picks this year, including a first, a second and three third-round selections. If the Canucks want to be competitive now but stay competitive in the future, they will need impact players from the few picks they own.

Sean Day, Luke Green, Victor Mete or Jacob Moverare are options on defense, forward options include Janne Kuokkanen and Noah Gregor. Still, depending on who is available once Vancouver is on the board, Otto Somppi could be a solid pick.