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After dominating the Finnish Under-20 league, Patrik Puistola got his first opportunity to play against men, playing in 16 games for Tappara in the SM Liiga. However, he got limited ice time and only had one assist. Tappara opted to loan him to LeKi in the Mestis, or Finnish second division, rather than send him back to the junior league. Puistola thrived with his new club, putting up 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 22 games. He also added three goals and four assists for seven points in eight games.
Puistola also represented Finland internationally. He was a staple of the country’s Under-18 squad with five goals in five games at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship. Last summer he put up four goals and two assists for six points in four games at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. He also played a number of other tournaments and exhibitions with the squad and finished with 14 goals and 22 points in 21 games overall. Last season, Puistola played for Finland at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He put up two goals and four assists for six points in five tournament games. His father was a long-time European pro player.
Patrik Puistola Scouting Report
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born January 11th, 2001 — Tampere, Finland
Height 6’0″ — Weight 174 [183 cm / 79 kg]
Puistola’s skating has improved as the season has gone on. He has good, but not great top-end speed and reaches that speed quickly with a good first step and strong acceleration. His quick feet are also evident in his agility and edgework. Puistola can make quick cuts and changes in direction which makes him difficult to contain in one-on-one situations. If he gets a step on a defender, he cuts to the front of the net. Puistola needs to improve his core strength though. This would improve the power in his stride and his ability to be strong on the puck. Checkers can knock him off balance at this point. He also has trouble in winning battles in the corners and along the boards. It is important to consider though that he is an 18-year-old playing against men so this may come with time.
Puistola has excellent offensive skills and instincts. A pure sniper, he has an excellent wrist shot with a lightning quick release. He also has a very good snapshot and one-timer. Puistola combines his good skating ability, with quick hands and the ability to make plays at top speed. He can beat a defender one-on-one with a quick move to open up a passing or shooting lane. Without the puck, Puistola needs to get physically stronger to battle in front of the net and prefers to find open space in the slot in order to take a pass and fire it on net. With the puck on his stick, he is willing to drive to the net and has the soft hands to finish in tight.
While his goalscoring ability overshadows his playmaking skill, Puistola can be a set-up man as well. He has the vision to find open teammates as well as the skill to put the puck through tight spaces. If defenders are shading him too much to take away his shot, he can find an open teammate for a scoring chance. If there is a criticism of his offensive game, it is that he must be stronger along the boards.
Puistola’s defensive game is best described as a work in progress. He has trouble containing his man, as he has a tendency to stop moving his feet, watch the puck and lose coverage. He also could stand to play more of a physical game as his attempts to poke the puck away from opponents are ineffective. Puistola needs real work on his positioning as he is not always in the right spot to close down shooting and passing lanes or to prevent his man from getting to the slot.
Projection and Comparison
Patrik Puistola could develop into a scoring winger at the next level. His points-per-game in the Mestis was one of the best seasons ever for a teenager in that league. Offensively he has nearly all the tools necessary to succeed. However, he will need real work on his defensive game in order to avoid being a liability on the ice. He seems to work hard in games and if that work ethic translates to practice this is something that can be coached. In terms of style, Puistola resembles Phil Kessel. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Patrik Puistola that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect in our NHL Draft series.
Main Photo via youtube.