Finnish center Otto Makinen is an interesting player. The first time I saw him play, I wrote him off as a player unlikely to be selected this year because he lacks the traditional tools one looks for in an NHL Draft pick. But the more I watched him, the more I saw a very impressive player that did a lot of nice things to be a really effective player, and a player that could be a quietly solid draft pick in this year's NHL Draft.
Player: Otto Makinen
Team: Tappara U20
Height: 6'1" Weight: 179 lbs.
Stats: 47 games, 11 goals, 19 assists, 30 points, +7
Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 13th among European skaters
What I Like:
-Does dirty work to make his teammates better
Makinen was a teammate growing up of Finnish superstar and likely second overall pick Patrik Laine, and in many ways, Makinen developed into an excellent complement to a player like Laine. Makinen is at his best and most effective when he going into battles along the boards and winning pucks to set up teammates. He plays a gritty, effective game to win pucks and get them to teammates in a position to make a play.
-Good with details
Makinen isn't a flashy player that makes highlight reel plays by any means, but the closer you watch him, the more you notice all the little things he does to be such an effective player. He wins face-offs, he plays defense, he's great at winning 50/50 pucks.
What I Don't Like:
Makinen isn't a terrific skater. At 6'1", he's got a reasonably powerful stride, but his lateral movement and ability to attack east-west is not very good. He's much more effective in tight areas where he can use his strengths and smarts to gain positioning than he is in the open ice.
Makinen is a really tough player to peg. NHL Central Scouting puts Makinen in the third-fourth round range, but he's also low enough that it's hard to get a true guess on how CSB rank correlates to Draft position. I'm of two competing minds when it comes to Makinen. Part of me thinks that when it comes to the NHL Draft, you're looking for real high-end upside potential, and I don't think Makinen has that. But the other part of me can't shake the fact that he's so darn effective that he's the type of guy that you want to be on your team in some capacity. I have him as a late-fourth/early-fifth round pick on my personal list. If he went in the seventh round, I wouldn't be surprised, if he went in the third round, I'd think it's a slight reach, but overall wouldn't be that shocked. Somewhere in the middle of that is probably the safest bet.
Makinen's ceiling is likely as a third or fourth liner, but he could be very effective in that role. He won't make a lot of highlight reel plays, but he's just a solid, honest hockey player that does a lot of the little things to be effective when he's out on the ice.