Welcome back to the 2023 edition of our Top 25 Under 25 feature. You can check out the full list so far here.
#10: Roby Järventie (Reader Ranking: 14 Last Year: 14)
By almost any objective measure, Roby Järventie had a good season in 2022-23 – when he was healthy. After suffering a knee injury that required a full twelve weeks recovery, the young Finn recorded 30 points in 40 games for the Belleville Senators. Järventie finished the season strongly after returning to the team, tallying 14 points in his final 14 games. Those are solid scoring totals for a twenty-year old in the AHL.
Järventie's performance earned him Shaan's choice as prospect of the year in our annual Prospect Awards series. The staff also rewarded the youngster with a jump up the rankings into the top ten of our Top 25 Under 25 rankings. At the same time, Järventie feels like something of a forgotten prospect for the Sens; our readers were less charitable in their analysis of the forward, keeping him slotted at the same #14 as last year. In his Prospect Pipeline article, Corey Pronman had him behind Zack Ostapchuk and Egor Sokolov. Pronman wasn't exactly effusive in his praise of Järventie, either:
He’s a very intelligent forward who can make a lot of plays and has strong puck skills. He can run a power play off the flank and is dangerous inside the offensive zone due to his vision and shot. I don’t hate his effort but I wouldn’t call Järventie a high-energy type and his skating is just OK. With his skill, size and history of producing versus men I could see him as a bottom-six winger with a chance at more.
I will note here that Pronman places a particularly heavy emphasis on motor, so a player like Järventie was not very likely to ever be one of his favourites. Still, the skill is undeniable. Järventie was drafted as a "high ceiling, low floor" type of prospect, and in that way is different from many of the Sens' recent selections. You don't have to squint too hard to see what I mean when I say that he has a high ceiling; just look at how he shoots the puck:
When it comes to Järventie 's future in the NHL, there has rarely been any question about his ability to produce offensively. His defensive performance, on the other hand, has often left scouts and coaches somewhat wanting. Fortunately this seems to have been an area of focus this past season. From the earlier write-up of his recovery from injury:
“I think I’m a different player now than when I came here. I can still score goals and produce offence, but I’m more responsible and have tried to be an overall better player both ways.”
[Coach]Bell agrees that his sophomore forward has shown the type of development he envisioned, particularly his increased attention to defensive details and improvements in his transitional game.
“He’s paid more attention to his details in his defensive zone, and he’s been more responsible in the defensive zone. In turn, he spent less time in the defensive zone, which enables him to take the puck to the other end with a lot more energy and as a result, he’s getting goals. So there’s a big correlation between him paying attention and trying in those zones and the rewards he is getting in the offensive zone.”
Building an NHL roster involves maximizing disparate skillsets, because only a select few players are "complete" in a meaningful sense of the word. Järventie's offensive capacities are intriguing enough that he will likely get a shot with the big team at some point in the near future: a young player with his offensive gifts are hard to come by. It strikes me that for a team that was starved for offense outside of its top six, Ottawa could do a lot worse than seeing what the young forward could offer. At the same time, the Sens are no longer in the business of giving playing time at the NHL level to their prospects just for the sake of it. The mandate is to win games, and it's possible that Järventie's defensive shortcomings will keep him in the minors for another season yet. That's OK: he only just turned twenty-one, and a year tearing up the AHL could be good for his development.
Twenty-one isn't eighteen though, and this is a big year for Järventie when it comes to cementing his place in the organization. It would be heartening to see him push for a roster spot in training camp (even if that push is ultimately doomed) and re-establish his place as a top forward prospect. At this time next year, I would like to be writing a piece about how Järventie has forced his way onto the team's bottom six. Everyone, including Järventie, knows what he has to do; we'll all be watching to see if he can do it.