Montreal Canadiens Jesperi Kotkaniemi can be next Aleksander Barkov

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Montreal Canadiens

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 22: Montreal Canadiens Jesperi Kotkaniemi Aleksander Barkov (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Montreal Canadiens Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been compared to Aleksander Barkov a few times, but I always dismissed it as blind optimism. However, the not so advanced stats support this claim.

The evening of the 22nd of June, 2018, I was at a Montreal Alouettes football game. The game coincided with the NHL draft of that year, and I made sure to ask my friends to text me when the Montreal Canadiens third overall selection was announced. I, like a certain woman in attendance at the Draft, had been hoping for Trevor Timmins to announce Filip Zadina as the newest member of our storied franchise.

When my buddy informed me of the selection of late riser Jesperi Kotkaniemi, I was slightly disappointed, but in no way surprised due to our need at centre and the pre-draft reports. I knew very little about this lanky Finnish centreman apart from the fact that the Habs probably could have traded down and still have gotten him.

In retrospect, I definitely should have watched the Draft instead of the football game, which saw my Alouettes get torn to shreds by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and their backup quarterback. Alright, enough about myself and my football team, let’s talk about the Canadiens’ future #1 centreman.

Of course, I, along with many many Habs and hockey fans alike, was proven wrong by the mintiest man in Montreal. Kotkaniemi had a stellar and surprising season. Firstly, he played the entire year in the NHL, which very few people had expected. He was defensively sound and showcased both his otherworldly vision and booming slapshot. Fine, I might be slightly exaggerating his abilities, but come on! This was the youngest player in the league and he never once looked out of place!

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