In a way, KK could look down on Sean Couturier...

Published August 16, 2021 at 5:21 PM

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, a 21-year-old center, is slow to find consistency in his game. However, that's normal, he's still in the learning and/or development process, so it's not clear yet what kind of player he will be in the future.

Despite his 34-point debut season, KK was clearly not ready to make the jump to the NHL this early. The Tricolore was sorely lacking in depth at center, so they moved up KK's arrival in the lineup. Regardless, the Finn has done very well, statistically speaking.

Grant McCagg, a former NHL scout, brought the KK bashers to heel with evidence to back it up. People tend to easily criticize KK or even compare him to other players in his draft, including Quinn Hughes and Brady Tkachuk, who are impact players for their respective teams. However, Kotkaniemi is a long-term project. Yes, we'll have to be patient, sure, but the wait is bound to be worth it. This is the message that McCagg wanted to deliver.

According to McCagg, Kotkaniemi was better than Sean Couturier before the age of 21. Couturier had 56 points, including 23 goals, in 161 games. On the other side, KK had 74 points in 200 games, including 9 playoff goals. When you look at it that way, it's pretty encouraging. Couturier is a great center, who has big responsibilities with the Philadelphia Flyers. We'd take him any day in Montreal, wouldn't we?

Kotkaniemi almost never had the luxury of playing with offensive wingers, no offense to Paul Byron, Artturi Lehkonen, Joel Armia and others. Couturier was playing in a market where Giroux, Voracek and Simmonds were/are approaching their prime. This is clearly something to consider.

Are you more reassured about Kotkaniemi's development? It's a good investment, perhaps one that will pay off very well in the long run, let's be patient.
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