November 20, 2022

Kasper Halttunen looks to become first-round pick and top Finnish prospect

Brace yourselves for the emergence of Kasper Halttunen.

The draft year for Halttunen, the top Finnish prospect in FCHockey’s Preliminary ranking for the 2023 NHL Draft, is underway with HIFK as he prepares himself for selection in the first round of the annual selection process.

“He impressed as an underager at the U18’s and was very good for Jokerit U20 last season,” Finnish-based FCHockey scout Rasmus Tornqvist said. “I’m very excited to see if he’ll be able to carve out a role for himself with HIFKs Liiga squad and how he’ll progress throughout the season.”

Thus far, Halttunen has bounced between Liiga and HIFK’s U20 team.

While averaging approximately 10 minutes a game in Liiga, Halttunen has only managed to register a single point — an assist — in his eight games. Some minor injuries, including a recent head injury, have seen him spending time with the U20 squad gaining confidence in his game. In only six games at the U20 level, Halttunen has tallied 11 points (seven goals, four assists).

Halttunen will look to earn his time with HIFK’s Liiga team as the season rolls on, and earn a nod as his country’s top draft export.

Here are some other prospects from the region who Törnqvist will be following this season:

Who are you personally looking forward most to scouting this season?

Emil Jarventie. He’s not the biggest guy out there, but more often than not, he is one of the most skilled guys on the ice. He has a lethal shot and can beat goalies from distance, so I’m expecting a big season for him at the U20 level, with sporadic visits to Ilves’ Liiga squad. A regular role in the Liiga squad is probably a bit out of reach, but he will likely benefit from big minutes at the U20 level and should be one of the most significant pieces in the Finnish U18 team come World Champs time.”

Who is your sleeper pick as the biggest riser from Finland?

“I’m not sure if he will necessarily be the biggest riser, but one player that I think will surprise plenty of people is Lenni Hameenaho. He is incredibly skilled and a great passer. He has not looked out of place for Ässät in Liiga action early in the season. His weakness is his skating, which will affect his ranking, but improving that a bit during the season, I would not be surprised to see him rise in the rankings.”

Who do you see being the toughest prospect to gauge from your region?

“One of the toughest to gauge, and at the same time, one of the most fascinating prospects will be Rainers Rullers from Latvian club Zemgale. Zemgale is participating in both Metsis (second-tier of Finnish hockey) and the Latvian league. Though I’m not too familiar with Zemgale or the Latvian league, reports say that their rink is significantly different from any of the Finnish rinks (different size, way smaller neutral zone). This will likely lead to some confusion and difficulties for the Finnish teams. Based on the few clips I’ve watched, he seems to move around the ice well. That and his big frame will make him an intriguing player to follow for sure.”

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