At 6-3, now 203 (now 11 pounds heavier since he was drafted) Joel Armia could turn into a star in the NHL in the near future but for now the SM-liiga standout is now averaging more than a point-per-game this season and he’s only 19!
Sometimes bigger players have to really work on their skating but Armia already has the stuff. He has enough speed to get by defenseman and once he’s in close he has the stick moves to pull off some highly-skilled goals. His “quick strike” goal scoring ability makes him a player opposing coaches have to game plan against.
I do project him to be a first line player. He’s a prototypical right winger. He’s solid at both ends of the ice but this Finn sets himself apart because he has the ability to bring his team back or break a game wide open. He is a “game changer” and he gives his teammates confidence. He does make players around him better.
His career in World Junior Championship games has been great, 21 points in 19 games against mostly elite competition. He’s also shown an ability to perform in the playoffs and I think this will get even better over time.
Right now Sabres fans are probably looking at a player who is NHL ready but is now percolating over in Europe with the aces until next season at the earliest because of a military obligation his government dictates and he’s fulfilling that service. There’s a reason he was drafted 16th overall in 2011.
The last important point to make about Armia is his long stick and reach. It makes it very hard to defend him but for defenseman who try and block his shot he is able to move the puck out wide and wrist it past the goaltender finding a high corner in the net.
Armia should make his NHL debut in 2013.
Photo courtesy of http://www.sm-liiga.fi/
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