Draft rankings

Aron Kiviharju Will Be a Player To Watch in the 2024 NHL Draft

A few years ago Aron Kiviharju seemed destined to be a top-five pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. He’s an offensive defenseman. When the puck is on his stick, he can make some slick passes and set up solid scoring chances five-on-five or on the power play.

At 16, here is what I saw out of him.

“Dominating J-20 at 16. Great shot release. A defenseman with a high-powered offensive game.”

I had a good amount of viewings and liked what I saw.

This year he didn’t look great in seven games for HIFK in Liiga, and then he got hurt. So now the questions are being asked. Is the rubber hitting the road because he’s 5-10 and not super fast? Or is it the men’s league difference? I think it’s all too soon for this.

In his draft year, it’s not great that he will miss the World Juniors this year. I don’t care that he was a late cut last year. It happens. But this is a long-term injury so more viewings of him probably aren’t in the cards. So what does a team do?

Accentuate the pluses: His edgework is good especially when he’s cutting cost ice. His stickwork is excellent. His puck retrieval is good, and he’s tricky in the corners after he gets the puck to avoid those crunching hits.

The answer is, I still think he’s a first-round talent. He should be there toward the bottom of my first-round list. If he is around in the second round that could be a steal.

There may be a time in the future when more defensemen his size have an impact on the game. That’s a gut feeling, so I am still willing to draft the ones that are a cut above, and he is.


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