Nation Network Prospect Profiles: #42 Roope Hintz

We continue our top-45 prospect countdown today by profiling the guy with undoubtedly the best hair in the draft: lanky Finnish forward Roope Hintz. The industry may be hot-and-cold on Hintz, but after a strong World Junior performance this past January and a very impressive 17-year old season in Finland’s top professional league, we have him rated in the first half of the second round.

Join us after the jump to look at one of this draft’s potential biggest sleeper picks.

Bio:

  • Age: 17.83 years old at start of season. Born November 17, 1996
  • Birthplace: Tampere, Finland
  • Frame: 6’3, 185 lbs
  • Position: LW/RW/C
  • Draft Year Team: Ilves (Liiga)
  • Accomplishments: October 2014 Jr-A Liiga Player of the Month

Stats:

PCS% 2014 PCS Pts/82 2014 PCS% 2015 PCS Pts/82 2015
20.0% 58.5 22.5% 52.5
PCS Most NHL GP PCS Highest Pts/GP
Olli Jokinen Nicklas Backstrom
Miroslav Satan Pavol Demitra
Pavol Demitra Patrik Sundstrom

Scouts:

Draft rank:

NHL CSS ISS FutureConsiderations HockeyProspect Pronman McKeen’s McKenzie Button
14 (EU) 51 71 N/A 32 N/A 58 76

From Curtis Joe, EliteProspects:

Highly intelligent; can play the role of scorer or playmaker; has killer instincts and a keen eye for scoring opportunities. Very high hockey-IQ and has incredible awareness on the ice; is able to play the puck creatively, all the while creating space for his adjoining teammates. Creates separation, not through physical play, but through outskating the opposition. His proactivity, recognizing and taking advantage of scoring chances, makes him a valuable teammate and offensive catalyst for whoever he plays with. A very good skater that is able to create chances through his speed. Possesses a hard, accurate release on his shot, as well as good hands and overall puckhandling ability. All-in-all, a prolific scoring threat that continuously plays with jump and provides energy for teammates.

From Craig Button, TSN:

Hintz has developed his overall game very well over the past year. He can play centre or wing and understands how to contribute from either of those positions. Can play in offensive or defensive spots in the lineup and he has a determined approach to playing and he makes contributions in various areas of the game.

Our Take:

I can’t speak for everyone else, but I became a big fan of Roope Hintz’s at this past world juniors, after he played some very solid hockey for Finland. Then listed at 6’2, Hintz has grown another half inch according to the most recent NHL combine, and really stands out against junior-age competition thanks to his size.

Statistically, PCS thinks that Hintz has first-line NHL upside and projects him to have a chance at being one of the better offensive players coming out of this draft, comparing favourably to players such as Nicklas Backstrom, Olli Jokinen, Pavol Demitra, Kristian Huselius, Miroslav Satan, and Milan Michalek. Samme Pahlsson and Rostislav Olesz are also successful NHL comparables. That’s a fairly good list of top-6 forwards there, and nearly all guys I’d have liked to have on my team at one point or another in their respective careers.

Hintz possesses a long stride and looks to have good straight ahead speed, especially through the neutral zone. He also looks to use his long reach to his advantage, hounding the puck on the forecheck. Hintz is also reported to possess plus-level IQ and is a very smart playmaker, being able to generate scoring chances with his very good puck skills.

If there are holes in his game, Corey Pronman reports that his physical game is a bit in-and-out and his defending could use some work. To me, Hintz looked to be engaged physically with a fair degree of regularity when he was playing at the world juniors, so maybe playing against much stronger and older players in Finland’s top men’s league makes Hintz play a little less aggressively, or makes him appear less effective than he will be once he reaches 6’3, 200 lbs.

The overall scouting community seems less high on Hintz than both Pronman and the numbers do, however, so Hintz could be an excellent value pick in the mid-second to early third round if he slides that far. He probably doesn’t have the dynamic skill to be Nicklas Backstrom, and roughly four out of five players similar to Hintz missed the NHL all together, but a big body that moves well, has produced well in pro already, and has a good base of skills shouldn’t be discounted.

I’d be quite happy if my team were to pick up Hintz outside of the first round, and depending on how much stock you put into PCS, he wouldn’t be a reach late in round 1 either. He’s as good a bet you can make if you’re looking for a good complimentary offensive winger to play in your middle-6 forward group.