Kotkaniemi was drafted third overall by the Canadiens at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft on Friday.
Kotkaniemi was the fastest riser in the draft class over the last couple months. The pivot was ranked 19th or 20th around midseason, only to see a massive performance at the U18s in April catapult him up the charts. And some scouts even moved him right into their top five for good reason. Kotkaniemi is a big, smart center with the potential to be a top-six guy. His vision is impressive and he thinks the game beyond his years. Kotkaniemi’s wheels are best described as choppy, so he’ll need to invest heavily in improving his skating. Still, given his combination of power along the wall and in front of the net, in addition to a heavy shot and cerebral mind, there’s the potential for him to someday grow into a top-line role. He’s the best center in this draft class and the Canadiens will be patient to capitalize on his skills. But third overall is a bit of stretch — the Habs picked Kotkaniemi based on positional need and that’s always a risk.