With a new round of prospects on the team, timing is perfect to thank Jamie Kellner for providing the vast majority of the photo content used at Canes and Coffee. You can find Jamie on Twitter at @jbkellner and can visit her photo site HERE.
This article starts into what will be an intermittent series that will ultimately provide ‘from the rink’ insight on all of the newest Carolina Hurricanes prospects.
In addition to this article, please also check the companion ‘Reading List’ article for Lenni Killinen that includes links to external articles about Lenni Killinen.
Killinen was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft. Killinen continues the Hurricanes run of selecting a Finnish forward in the draft in each year dating back to an auspicious start with Sebastian Aho’s selection in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft. As a good skater with a projectable NHL frame and enough skill, Killinen is maybe a bit raw at this early stage of his development, but he has a high ceiling for a mid-round draft pick.
Marco Bombino (Twitter=@marco_bombino) is a Finnish prospect analyst for McKeen’s Hockey and FinnProspects. He also has his own website finnishjuniorhockey.com that provides information on Finnish prospects playing in juniors and at the pro level. He has previously worked for Future Considerations, Over The Boards and Dobber Prospects.
Interviews on Lenni Killinen
Canes and Coffee: How would you summarize Lenni Killinen’s 2017-18 season across a couple different teams and tourneys?
Marco Bombino: Killinnen had a very good, productive season for Blues U20. For me, he was one of the most interesting forwards to watch in the Finnish U20 league. I also liked what I saw from him in Mestis against men. He made plays and he was clearly able to keep up with the pace of the game. He couldn’t perform at the same level for the U18 national team, despite some flashes from time to time, as his game lacked consistency.
Jokke Nevalainen: Killinen spent most of the season playing junior hockey at the highest level in Finland. He was one of the best U18 players in that league and scored 13 goals and 41 points in 38 games but he was held pointless in four playoff games. Killinen also played 10 games against men at the second highest level in Mestis where he scored two goals and four points. It is a small amount of games but that’s a promising sign nonetheless.
His success in international tournaments wasn’t as good. At the U18 World Championship, Killinen started the tournament by playing on the second line. Things didn’t seem to work, so he was first demoted to third line, and then quickly became the 13th forward for Team Finland. He earned a gold medal from the tournament but didn’t really make a difference one way or another.
Canes and Coffee: What are Lenni Killinen’s current strengths as a player that give him the potential to reach the NHL level in the future?
Marco Bombino: His biggest are strengths are his offensive skill set and skating. He can score goals and has a very good wrist shot, and his stickhandling was also above-average at the U20’s. He has the ability to drive to the net with authority, using his great speed to cut inside with the puck. A powerful skater with a mix of agility and fluidity, he has the potential to develop into a strong skater at the NHL level. Although he’s a bit raw right now, the ceiling is high.
Jokke Nevalainen: Killinen has a very nice set of tools. He has good size and he knows how to use it to protect the puck. His skating is very good. He has good hands, and his shot is good as well.
Canes and Coffee: What areas of Killinen’s game have room for improvement as he develops as a player over the next few years?
Marco Bombino: He will definitely need to improve his consistency. In my viewings this past season, he was often invisible for overly long periods. While he does have the ability to make plays in the offensive zone, he’ll need to find more ways to make an impact. Also, the games in the men’s league showed that he’ll need to gain strength and learn to utilize his size more effectively to his advantage. He would also benefit from adding aggressiveness and toughness to his game.
Jokke Nevalainen: He can disappear for long stretches of time. You may not notice him for most of the game, and then suddenly he makes a great play or scores an important goal. Teams in junior hockey are willing to overlook those consistency issues but professional teams may not have the opportunity to do so.
Canes and Coffee: Does Lenni Killinen’s skill set and style of play remind you of a current or former NHL player who might be a model for him as he develops?
Marco Bombino: One NHLer that comes to mind is Tomas Hertl. Both are big, instinctive and skilled players with the ability to both score goals and set up their teammates for chances. As mentioned, Killinen will need to get stronger and become a more well-rounded player, but I think there are some similarities between him and Hertl.
Jokke Nevalainen: Sorry, but I don’t like player comparisons.
Canes and Coffee: Is there anything else about Lenni Killinen that is not covered in the questions above that might be of interest to Carolina Hurricanes fans who are just getting up to speed on him?
Marco Bombino: N/A.
Jokke Nevalainen: For the upcoming season, Killinen is moving to Ässät organization. Their pro team plays at the top level in Liiga but it remains to be seen if Killinen can make the jump there right away. If not, they can put him back in the junior league or loan him to Mestis. Ässät is the team where third overall selection Jesperi Kotkaniemi plays, and Canes prospect Aleksi Saarela also used to play for Ässät.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to Marco Bombino from Finnish Junior Hockey and Jokke Nevalainen from Dobber Prospects for sharing their ‘from the rink’ insight all the way from Finland on Canes prospect Lenni Killinen.