Many Buffalo Sabres fans are asking questions about the abundance of prospects the Sabres have under contract heading into training camp. At this point, we are unaware as to which prospects will make the opening day roster, but the Sabres are in great position as they have added lots of young talent this offseason. One player who will soon need to make the jump is forward Joel Armia, and one may seem to wonder if time is running out for the Finnish forward.
Drafted 16th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Joel Armia is yet to play a game in the NHL. After spending three seasons in the SM-Liiga, Armia came overseas to North America last season, playing 54 games with the Rochester Americans. Although Armia’s numbers weren’t mind boggling in the regular season, he came to play in the playoffs, as he recorded three goals and three assists in just five games. The Pori, Finland native has great size at 6’3, and at 21 years of age, will soon be NHL ready.
We only have one year’s worth of film of Armia playing in North America but one thing is for sure; the Fin has a wicked shot. It’s no secret that Armia can be a weapon offensively. He gives defenders an extremely difficult time in one on one situations due to his solid speed and a special pair of hands. Another strength of his is that he isn’t afraid to go into the corners and win battles. He has great vision in the offensive zone, and is exceptional at setting up plays. Armia will excel on the power play at any level.
The biggest knock on Armia is that he doesn’t shoot the puck enough. Even if you didn’t watch him last year in Rochester, it is evident as he only scored seven goals. If Armia can learn to take more chances and fire more pucks on net, there is no doubt in my mind that he can be a scorer in North America, like he was in Finland. Armia is not a bad player in his own end; however, he must learn to tighten up a little more in his own end before he gets the call to the NHL.
The NHL season is so close to us that we can almost taste it! Time will tell whether or not Armia will make the opening day line-up. If the Pori native can have a strong showing in training camp and pre-season, Tim Murray and Ted Nolan will have a tough decision to make on Armia. Don’t be surprised if he starts the season in Rochester, and with a hot start, could see himself getting the call to the Sabres in late fall.