Somewhat of an afterthought in 2020, LA Kings prospect Aatu Jamsen continues to progress in his development.
The theme surrounding their 2021 draft class was “quality over quantity,” as the LA Kings drafted just four players. 2020, however, was a bit of a different story with the silver-and-black selecting nine players. However, coining the 2020 class as “quantity over quality” is admittedly unfair to those the LA Kings drafted, most notably Quinton Byfield and Helge Grans. Of those players selected in 2020, though, was a right-winger from Finland whom we haven’t heard as much about.
Taken by the Kings in the seventh round (190th overall) in 2020, Aatu Jamsen may have been as surprised as anyone when he was selected. After all, the Finnish youngster was unranked by some of the most notable draft analysts, including NHL Central Scouting. But, what’s done is done, and moving forward, Jamsen is focused on just getting better as a player.
I recently spoke with Jamsen’s head coach, Tommi Niemela of the Lahti Pelicans. who shared Aatu’s skill set, how he is to coach, and what to expect this coming season.
“He is exceptionally skilled with the puck,” Niemela noted of Jamsen. “His offensive game is on a level that gives him the possibility to be a difference-maker in the game. He still has a lot of work to do to take the next step, but he has all tools to get there.”
Being with the Pelicans organization since 2016, Jamsen began with the Under-16 team before graduating to the U17 and U18 ranks. 2020-21, however, marked the defenseman’s first full season with the Under-20 club, and he was impressive right off the bat.
In 36 games for the U20 Pelicans, Jamsen registered 56 points (18G, 38A) to go in hand with a plus-23 rating.
While these numbers certainly warrant writing home about, Jamsen’s impressive production level was not an overnight transition.
“He has developed late physically, which makes his physical attributes still pretty weak,” Niemela admitted. “He needs a lot more power and muscle mass in order to compete and battle with better players.”
As for as being a student goes, though, the 19-year-old couldn’t be better for his coaches.
“He is a very easy player to coach,” beamed Niemela. “He has goals and dreams which he wants to reach, and he works towards them every day. [Aatu’s an] easygoing guy inside the team, doesn’t take things too seriously off the ice, [and quieter] on the bench than too vocal.”
As for looking forward to next season, Jamsen has some particular goals in mind.
“He wants to earn a playing spot in our professional men’s team,” Niemela said. “He wants to earn a roster spot on the Finnish National Team for the World Junior Championships and wants to get better.”
The 2021-22 campaign will mark Aatu Jamsen’s first in the Finnish Elite League. If last season was any indication, the transition to the senior league should be smooth for the young forward.
Having been drafted the seventh round by the Kings in 2020 could lead to an argument that Jamsen was, for lack of a better term, an afterthought. In fairness, though, the silver-and-black have had some of their seventh-round picks find success with the big club, most notably Nic Dowd and current Kings defenseman Matt Roy. That is not to suggest his path will be identical to the aforementioned, but Jamsen nonetheless has little reason to feel deterred.
Having just turned 19 a few weeks ago, Aatu Jamsen has plenty of time on his size. So far, he has made the most of his time, but, as Coach Niemela alluded to, there is still plenty of work ahead for the youngster.
Regardless, while we may not see the 6’2″, 157-pound forward compete for an NHL roster spot soon, it should be expected to hear Aatu Jamsen’s name more often as time goes on. He may just be that hidden gem in what is already a promising prospect pool for the LA Kings.