By: Tim A Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Next up on my prospect season review is a guy who is one of the best prospects in the Boston Bruins’ system. That player is Urho Vaakanainen. Coming into the season, there was a lot of hype surrounding the young defenseman from Finland. Despite the injury, he had a fantastic first season with Providence and even got a call-up to Boston as an injury replacement. With the successful 2018-2019 season, many people expected Vaakanainen to take a giant leap forward in 2019-2020. Though the young Finnish player didn’t have the season he or others may have wanted, it was still an overall good season for the young defenseman.
It didn’t take long for Vaakanainen to get on the scoresheet in 2019-2020. In the third game of the season, he dished out two assists for his first two points of the season (stats courtesy of the AHL). In the middle of November, the young defenseman had a mini five-game call-up to Boston. Even though he played well for the big club, he didn’t register a point during his time in Boston. When he returned to Providence, Vaakaninen seemed to have newfound confidence from his stint in the NHL. He dominated for a six-game stretch that saw him net four goals and while dishing out four assists for eight total points (stats courtesy of the AHL). After that offensive outburst, he would only score four more points in his last 33 games (stats courtesy of the AHL).
Overall in 54 games played, Vaakanainen netted five goals while dishing out nine assists for 14 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The young defenseman’s point per game total went down from .50 in his first season, to .27 (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). Vaakanainen’s strong suit is his defensive ability. He has the skills to be an elite stay-at-home defenseman. Even in a year that left him wanting more, he showed that he has a high hockey IQ, he skates well, has poise when carrying the puck, and is elite defensively. He also proved that he can shut down a rush play, and played well on the penalty kill. His offensive ability is what needs the most work. Vaakanainen has a hard shot, but it can be erratic at times. He did shoot more this season than last, which is good for his development. The young defenseman also proved to have good vision on the ice, to go along with his passing ability.
Urho Vaakanainen is one of my favorite prospects that the Boston Bruins have in their system. The team’s young core defensemen are very good at the NHL level. I see Vaakanainen eventually being a guy that is added to that core. I think he can be a top-four defender for the Bruins very soon. I believe his offensive game will eventually round out pretty well. He’s shown flashes of offensive brilliance, it’s all about finding that consistency. The defensive future of the Boston Bruins is very bright. They’ve always been a team that appreciates good defense, and I see that continuing. Vaakanainen will be a guy that we are happy to have in black and gold for many years to come. I hope everyone is staying safe. Feel free to send any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!