4 - Heikki Ruohonen - Centre - KiekKo-Espoo U20 - (FIN-JR)
2023-24 19G 24A 43P
Leaving the OHL to give Europe some credit in the department of talented unknowns of note, Heikki Ruohonen was a player I had little knowledge of before getting a viewing of him a month ago.
I had watched a game of his back in October but didn't think he stood out, or I didn't pay enough attention. I did make the same mistake throughout last year with Cowan, focusing more on fellow draftee Denver Barkey.
Ruohonen is a fast skating forward with a great shot and compete level. You'll start to notice a pattern that one big value in draft prospects for me is energy and competitiveness, and Ruohonen carries both of those traits.
Like Marek Vanacker, Ruohonen has been on a nice recent scoring streak, with 8 Goals and 18 Points in his last 10 games. At 6'1 and 200lbs, Ruohonen has a good body frame that he's used more as he's becoming a top option for Kiekko-Espoo. His 24 assists & 43 points leads the Finnish U20, his 19 goals 2nd. I think both are equally useful weapons in his game.
What stood out most in Ruohonen's game is how ahead he seems of everyone else. At times he looks highly aware and ahead of everyone else on the ice, although ironically he struggles at times due to seeming to anticipate quicker than his teammates can match.
Ruohonen seems like a plyer who can really excel with the right teammates, but does need to learn when to slow his game down, it'll do him good, even with play at a higher level. Any team that takes him could be getting a talented diamond in the rough. He's a very smart player who knows how to drive plays, and finish them as well.