#18: Roby Järventie (Last year: 16, Reader Rank: 20)
The Ottawa Senators’ draft class of 2020 has the potential to go down as one of the most impactful in the team’s history. Tim Stützle and Jake Sanderson figure to play a prominent role for years to come, and Ridley Greig is coming off a very strong season in which he did not look out of place with the AHL’s Belleville Senators despite being just 18 years old. It might be easy, then, to forget about Roby Järventie. But if the Sens want to eventually make themselves into perennial contenders, they desperately need someone who can put the puck in the net in the way that Järventie does. There’s no rarer skill in hockey than the ability to consistently score goals at the NHL-level, and there’s some reason to believe the young Finn will be able to do just that.
Last year we ranked Järventie #16, so at first blush it might seem that he had a disappointing season in 2020-21. The truth is that at the time of last year’s voting, December 2020, Järventie was off to a torrid start in the Liiga while very few of the other players on this list were playing at all. Can even the wise staff of Silver Seven fall prey to recency bias? Of course! Yet even accounting for the fact that Järventie slowed down as the season went on, his total of 14 goals and 25 points in 48 Liiga games is nothing to sneeze at. He also managed two goals and an assist in an abbreviated four game stint with Belleville. Expect to see him suiting up for AHL Senators for the 2021-22 season.
Back to that goal-scoring ability. Here’s what Colin Cudmore had to say about Järventie in his 2020 draft preview:
There’s a lot to love about Järventie’s game, and while I’ve said that about a lot of prospects this year, there really are some special elements to his toolkit. Most prominently is his goal-scoring ability — he just has a nose for getting pucks to the back of the net, and a whole arsenal of ways to do it. He has a powerful and accurate shot to beat goalies clean from a distance, the nifty touch to create openings in tight, and the size and awareness to be a natural finisher.
His Liiga highlight reel from last season goes to show just how well he can shoot the puck:
After watching the above, you may be asking yourself how a 6’3 winger with that kind of shot fell all the way to the second round — or why we only have him ranked #18 for players under twenty-five in the Sens’ organization. The answer is that Järventie could still use quite a bit of polish, and there are questions about how well his game will translate at the highest level. If you are the type to worry, his dreadful performance at the World Junior Championships might give you cause for concern. Virtually every pre-draft scouting report praised his skating ability, but cautioned that he had a tendency to lose focus. His work on the defensive side of things also leaves a bit to be desired. Järventie will have some bad habits to break.
In lots of ways, Järventie is atypical of the Sens’ draft strategy for the last few seasons. Ottawa has demonstrated a keenness to draft players with a lower ceiling, but higher floor; players who were perhaps a bit more complete, but not in possession of game-breaking skill. Järventie is the opposite of that: he has an elite skill but he needs the rest of the package to come along. It’s no sure thing that Järventie will ever even play meaningful minutes in the NHL, and at the very least he’s likely a project that will need work in the minors for a couple of years.
he Sens will be hoping that Troy Mann will be able to mould the player that his brother Trent helped bring into the organization. Given Belleville’s projected depth chart, I would expect Järventie to see a fair amount of time on the power play, and on one of the top lines at 5v5. He will doubtless be given the opportunity to prove himself. We will know a lot more about where, exactly, Järventie is likely to land on the scale of “boom or bust” after this season.