Analyzing Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s Qualities as a Player
Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a great hockey player with lots of potential. He surprised many people this past season by making the Montreal Canadiens and contributing considerably to the team. Personally, I think Kotkaniemi is very developed as a player for his age. The sky is the limit for the youngster (funny how I call him “youngster”; he’s five years older than I am). Now I will pretend to be Marc Dumont, and I will take an in-depth look at Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s qualities.
The first quality that I want to look at is patience. Most rookies are always looking to make that quick play, to achieve their objective as quickly as possible. Not Kotkaniemi. He has a lot of patience for his age. Consider the following video:
In this video, Kotkaniemi holds off a Florida Panthers defender, drives in on the net and toe drags around goalie James Reimer for a highlight-reel goal. First of all, let me just mention how well Kotkaniemi outskated and held off the Florida defender on the way too the net. He’ll be able to do that even better this year; with the 14 pounds he put on this summer. This play is a prime example of Kotkaniemi’s patience. Most players, let alone rookies, in that situation would take the puck short side, or would shoot too soon. If Kotkaniemi had shot any sooner than he did, Reimer would have caught the puck in his glove. Instead, Kotkaniemi had the patience to drag the puck around Reimer’s glove, and put it into a now empty net. Wow. The fact that in the heat of the moment, Kotkaniemi still had the patience to make the smart move, the smart play, instead of the quick and easy one, is awesome. Kotkaniemi has the patience and the hockey IQ of a much older player.
The second quality I would like to examine with Kotkaniemi is simplicity. Here is a video from today’s Red vs. White scrimmage at the Bell Centre:
In this video, Kotkaniemi has a penalty shot after being tripped, and he takes a slapshot low, glove side on Carey Price. The slapshot is a very unorthodox move in shootouts; most players tend to go with a backhand, the weakest shot. Teammate Nick Suzuki made an interesting comment on Kotkaniemi’s slapshot goal after the game.
“My goalie coach in Owen Sound always told me to do slapshots on breakaways and penalty shots, but not many guys try it,” he said. “I don’t think too many guys are confident in it. I think (Kotkaniemi) was just kind of gassed from his shift on the one before, so he just let it rip.”
I wholeheartedly agree with Nick Suzuki’s old goalie coach. Sometimes it is necessary, on a breakaway or a penalty shot, to keep the play simple. Earlier in the game, Kotkaniemi had another penalty shot, and he did this complicated backhand move that Price easily stopped. On the second penalty shot, Kotkaniemi had the maturity to recognize that in this situation simple is the answer. Kotkaniemi utilized his amazing slapshot and simply beat Carey Price glove side. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fancy, but it worked. A guy who knows when to make the simple play at 19 years old, is a guy very far along in his development. Besides, who doesn’t love seeing a good old-fashioned slapshot every now and then?
Jesperi Kotkaniemi is truly an exciting player, who is ready to take on a big role for the Canadiens this season. I look forward to watching such a dynamic, smart player continue his development. Way to go, Packeryammy.
Go Habs Go.
Signed, Marc Dumont – I mean, Le Bo