Drafted 18th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Urho Vaakanainen could prove to be the blue-line solution the team has been looking for. Still relatively young at 18 years of age, Vaakanainen has nonetheless proven to be quite an effective skater with a great hockey sense.
Jamie Langenbrunner, ex-nhler and Bruins player development coordinator, went as far as comparing the young rookie to Hall-of-Famer Scott Niedermayer:
“I think it’s the effortlessness that he skates with, it’s smooth […]. I think Scott [Bradley] had mentioned to me yesterday, Scott Niedermayer. That’s obviously high praise with a guy that is effortless and can skate”.
In the Finnish Elite League last season, Vaakanainen recorded 6 points in 41 games, an underwhelming offensive performance of which he is well aware about:
“I think maybe they want to see more of my offensive game because there hasn’t been so much of that the last couple of years. The role might be bigger now and more offensive, so it’s coming. Of course, you have to work hard for that, but when you play more minutes it absolutely helps to get more comfortable with what you’re doing.”
Urho still has a lot of learning to do, but as the league progressively becomes faster-paced, one could expect Vaakanainen to become a top-tier defensemen in the years to come because of his skating proficiency.