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The 2018 NHL Draft is heavy on Swedes, but that does not mean that scouts should ignore their rivals from Finland. In fact, it was Finland who recently got the big results on the ice, winning the gold medal at the 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Hockey Championship. Left wing Sampo Ranta was part of the team that won the event. He put up one goal and one assist in the seven-game tournament. Ranta also played for Finland at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament, putting up a goal and an assist in four games. Ranta also represented Finland at the Five-Nations.
Ranta played for the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL the past two seasons. He saw limited ice-time as a 16-year-old rookie in 2016-17, but really broke out this season. In 53 games, Ranta scored 23 goals and 14 assists for 37 points. The numbers might not seem like much, but it is important to note that Sioux City was a rebuilding team, and lacked offence. Only 20-year-old forward Cole Koepke scored more goals (28) and points (39) and he played seven more games than Ranta.
Ranta is committed to play next season for the University of Wisconsin.
Sampo Ranta Scouting Report
Right Wing / Left Wing — shoots Left
Born May 31st, 2000 — Naantali, Finland
Height 6’2″ — Weight 190 lbs [188 cm / 86 kg]
Ranta is a very good skater. He has exceptionally quick acceleration, reaching top speed in just a few strides. That speed allows him to earn separation from defenders and create breakaways and odd-man rushes. Ranta is also agile. He has good edgework and can change directions quickly, or avoid a defender with a quick more. Ranta could stand to work on his strength, to be better on the boards and in front of the net.
A highly skilled player, Ranta is a natural goal scorer. He has an outstanding wrist shot and a lightning-quick release. The same can be said about his snap shot. He also has an absolute bomb of a slap shot. Ranta can score from the slot and the top of the circles. If he gets a break on the defence, he also has the quick hands to beat a goaltender. Raanta can also play the role of playmaker. He has good vision and passing skills. His assist totals would be higher if his teammates were strong enough offensively to finish more plays.
However, Ranta seems to shy away from physical situations. He does not get to the front of the net often, preferring to play a perimeter game. While he protects the puck well on the cycle and can fight through checks, he does not involve himself enough physically in battles for loose pucks along the boards. He seems to shy away from high traffic areas, especially without the puck.
Ranta’s defensive game is a real work in progress at this point in his career. There are times he seems uninterested in playing in his own zone, watching the puck and just waiting for an opportunity to get back on the attack. He needs to show a lot more intensity in supporting the play in the defensive end. Ranta is also seen to fly the zone at times, looking to create offence before even finishing his defensive responsibilities. There will be a lot of work to be done for future coaches. His unwillingness to get involved physically extends to his own end of the ice.
Projection and Comparison
Ranta is the type of player who will drive pro coaches crazy. There is clearly a ton of offensive skill here. However, he will need to work on his compete level to excel at the next level. Ranta must work to be more willing to battle in the dirty areas of the ice going forward. This includes both the defensive and offensive zone. Perhaps he will become more engaged once he adds a little bit of bulk. Even if the compete level improves, learning the defensive side of the game will then become the challenge as he starts out a bit behind his colleagues. Ranta’s game is reminiscent of Alexander Semin. This is a style comparison though, and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages of Ranta that are available on youtube. With Ranta, the content is a bit sparse.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, PA – SEPTEMBER 28: Sampo Ranta #8 of the Sioux City Musketeers skates during the game against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on Day 1 of the USHL Fall Classic at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on September 28, 2017 in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Sport)