Position: Right winger
European team: TPS (Finland)
Born: Nousiainen, Finland
Measurables: 6-foot-4, 211 pounds
2014-15 stats: 56 games, nine goals, 19 assists, 28 points
Central Scouting rank: No. 1 (Europe)
Lowdown: Finland was pretty much a one-man team at the world juniors, and Rantanen was that man. He scored four of the team’s eight goals to open eyes and vault from No. 2 in the midterm rankings to No. 1 in the final evaluations.
Like former Sabres first-round pick Rasmus Ristolainen, the man-sized Rantanen enters the draft with plenty of experience playing against professionals. Rantanen has spent three seasons in the Finnish elite league and was an alternate captain for TPS this year. It’s easy for players to respect a younger teammate who has already drawn comparisons to Corey Perry, a 50-goal scorer in the NHL. He joined his organization’s junior team for the postseason and was named Playoffs Best Player with six goals and 14 points in seven games.
Rantanen adds mobility to his size. He’s able to protect pucks and fire them with an explosive shot. His defensive awareness impresses. One thing he’d like to change is his pass-first mentality, though his playmaking is a top attribute.
They said it: “He’s a physically strong power forward with very good playmaking abilities, smart, active and involved on every shift. He has very good speed and quickness for a big man and plays with authority. He’s difficult to check, protects the puck well and has good hands.” – Goran Stubb, director of European scouting.
The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL Draft, which will be held June 26-27.