14. (15) Sami Lepistö, D - WashingtonAnd in case you were wondering where exactly these chaps are from...
Team in 2006-07: Jokerit (FIN)
Lepistö’s 2005-06 season came close to ruin while playing on a dysfunctional team. Fortunately, he managed to develop even amidst the chaos of the Jokerit squad. The team was preparing to lose its top defenseman to Washington, but the Capitals didn’t feel the need to rush their prospect and so Lepistö will stay in Finland for another year. While it may seem that new AHL scenery would be the best for a defenseman who needs to solidify his defensive game, the tutelage of Doug Shedden that proved good for young talent in the IFK organization last year, is a good option too.
In the long run, Lepistö has shown development in his defensive game as well as his abilities of a power play quarterback and puck-carrying defenseman each. He showed outstanding flashes of his ability on the power play in Euro Hockey Tour games in 2005 and is just baby steps away from becoming a top quarterback in all of Europe. Over the past season, Lepistö has also developed when it comes to moving the puck from the own end into the offensive zone, a skill ever so important in the new NHL. Whether his overall play is good enough to make him a specialist player or a genuinely valuable defenseman remains to be seen.
23. (NR) Oskar Osala, LW - Washington
Team in 2006-07: Mississauga Ice Dogs (OHL)
At age 16, Osala was already 6’3 and weighed well over 200 pounds, which made it easy for him to stand out among his peers. He didn’t end up being only an early bloomer, as he maintained a status as a top 100 prospect in his draft class. Osala left for Mississauga for his draft year, eager to play the physical hockey of the Ontario Hockey League. He had a rough start, though, and not until the middle of the season did he start playing up to his potential.
If Osala can pick up where he left in the upcoming season, he has a chance to enjoy a better season than any other Finn in the CHL in recent memory. Still, perhaps the more interesting question is where he will spend his 2007-08 season. A three-year OHL career could be best for him, but his late 1987 birthdate complicates his junior status some. In any case, the Capitals need not worry about their prospect’s future, as it seems bright for the big and talented forward.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Finnish? These Guys Haven't Even Started
Hockey's Future has put together a list of the Top 30 Drafted Finnish Prospects and two Caps make the list (the number in parentheses indicates the players rank on last year's list):