As the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has not yet taken place, you may be asking “Joel who?”. Unless you are a really serious hockey fan with special interest in young hockey prospects, it may be the case that you have not even heard of Joel Armia yet. But after the 2011 draft you will have heard of this Finnish future star. Chances are that this guy will have his impact on the highest-level professional hockey scene during the current decade and the next one as well. Before you read any further, please take a few minutes to view this video which shows Joel Armia in action, playing as a 17-year-old kid among adults in one of the top European leagues (the Finnish Elite League).
A Rising Star
Joel Armia’s name has been rising on the top prospect ranking lists after he took everyone by surprise with his breakthrough to professional hockey in one of the premier hockey leagues in the whole world. Most experts would rank the Finnish Elite League in the top-5, perhaps even top-3 of the world’s professional hockey leagues. In comparison to the AHL, it would be fair to say that the level of play in the Finnish Elite League is either equal or a bt higher. Furthermore, FEL is perhaps the one among European hockey leagues that most resembles NHL by its style of play. During the summer break, there was a good deal of speculation among the fans of Armia’s team (Assat Pori) concerning his chances to play regularly with the elite league team. The dominant opinion seemed to be that Armia will definitely get a chance to play some games with the team, and perhaps even establish a semi-regular spot in the team’s 4th line. For a 17-year-old kid, this would be a great achievement – after all, the great majority of his peers would spend at least two more seasons playing mostly with their junior teams. But no one would have been able to predict the huge leap forward that Armia made in his development. With more than half of the regular season’s games played already, Armia has established his place as the right winger of Assat’s first line. After 28 games, he has 11 goals and 7 assists, which makes him the #1 goal scorer of his team and #12 in the whole league.
What Type of a Player is Joel Armia?
While it is not the purpose of this article to present a full scouting report, it may be useful to briefly characterize Joel Armia as a player. Joel is very skilled with the puck and is also willing to put his skills to good use where others might hesitate. He quite often manages to make the opposing team’s defensemen look foolish. Combine this with his very solid ability to score goals and you can see that this right-shooting winger has the makings of a superstar. Being 6 feet and 4 inches tall at the age of seventeen, Armia has the size to become a power forward. But he may not assume that exact description during his career simply because it would not do justice to his great skill. Armia has no real weaknesses as a player. His physical strength is still developing, just as it is with any other player of his age. But even now, he has moved past the point where this would in any way be hindrances to his success, even playing as he does as a youngster among adults. In fact, he is already perfectly able to take part in the physical side of the game.
Joel Armia’s Future
It is relatively easy to predict that Joel Armia will play a long and successful career in the NHL. Whether he will become just a solid first-liner or one of the greatest players ever is something that remains to be seen. But make no mistake about it, this is a guy that you should keep your eye on. The NHL scouts are already doing exactly that.