#9 Roni Hirvonen
Height/Weight: 5’9 176 lbs.
Draft: 2nd round, 59th overall, 2020
Hirvonen is a sneaky-good prospect. He won’t wow you with talent, but his kind of positional awareness and overall intelligence probably works a bit better in the pro-game where NHL coaches demand that.
In lesser leagues than the NHL, future NHL player have a much bigger talent separation over their non-future NHL playing peers than is seen in the NHL, and so there is always a tendency for them to use that separation to succeed without playing the kind of disciplined, positional game you see at the pro level.
That doesn’t work in the NHL, because even the best pro players only have a slight edge over anyone else. So players already used to playing a determined, smart, positionally sound, defensively strong game tend to transition better.
Hirvonen, strikes me as a player who might actually be better in the NHL than he is in the minors.
He has played the last several years in SM-liiga in Finland. This year he will debut for the Toronto Marlies and figures to be one of their better players.
It is not impossible that he makes his NHL debut this season as a call-up.
He has been solid in the World Juniors, even captaining team Finland. He projects as, at best, a 3C in the NHL, but then again, he’s mostly played as an under-ager in a men’s pro league and has never been slotted in in a position to score a lot of points.
Where he to add more offense to his game in the AHL, his NHL prospects would be a lot better, but at the minimum he should be a much better version of what Pontus Holmberg currently is.