Big, mean and Physical. Normally these are words one uses when describing a player from either Canada or the United States. However, for Finnish defensive prospect Rasmus Ristolainen these are the qualities that make him one of the best defensive prospect in the upcoming draft. In fact, many are comparing the game of Ristolainen to the consensus number one overall Seth Jones.

I don’t think that’s a fair comparison at all, but I do see similarities in playmaking and skating ability. Seth Jones is a much better two-way player than Ristolainen in my opinion. At 6’3 210 pounds, scouts are salivating over Ristolainen who plays for TPS Turku in the highly competitive Finnish elite league. He’s a calm player with a good two-way ability and he plays beyond his years given his late ’94 birthdate. He moves the puck well and he’s quite mobile given his size. Ristolainen’s strength comes in his defensive game. He utilizes his strength, and positioning, and his long reach to his advantage. He’s not the biggest hitter in the draft, but he plays the body and likes to get physical in front of the net, which is not traditionally the Finnish style of playing hockey.

In 52 games with TPS this year, Ristolainen put up 3 goals, and 12 assists for 15 points. Ristolainen had a good showing in Ufa at the World Juniors having 2 goals and 4 assists in 6 games played. The one thing I would like to see Ristolainen use more of is his cannon of a shot. He seems to shy away from using it and rather set up his teammates with his quick on-the-tape passes. In fact, he also has a pretty good shootout move as well.