Niclas Almari

by Mark Allan on October 22, 2017

 

Niclas Almari, D

Shoots: L

Height: 6-01

Weight: 168

Born: 1998-05-11

Hometown:  Espoo, Finland

Drafted: 151st overall 2016 (fifth round) by Pittsburgh

 

Observations:

October 2017 – Helped by a 24-game, five-point audition in Finland’s highest level of hockey, the 19-year-old is off to a respectable start to begin his first full campaign in the Liiga against grown men. One goal and three assists in 16 games for HPK are not eye-popping stats, but the Penguins didn’t draft him until the fifth round. Plus-5 so far, the same mark he achieved in 24 Liiga games in 2016-17, hints at good defensive play. Mark Allan


June 2017 – Two weeks after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton signed the Finn to an amateur tryout deal in mid-April for the rest of the AHL regular season, Pittsburgh announced he was being released from his contract and returned to the SM-Liiga in his homeland. No explanation was given, although it’s clear the slim 6-1, 165-pounder needs more seasoning in Europe. Playing against men in Finland’s best league, the 18-year-old had three goals and two assists in 24 games with HPK Hameenlinna and posted similar stats with Lempäälän Kisa (Mestis) in his pro debut. The mobile rearguard was also part of HPK’s junior club that won the Legacy Bowl as the Junior A SM-liiga champion. The Penguins will likely not rush Almari across the Atlantic again. Mark Allan

January 2017 – A long-term project for the Penguins, the stringbean defender has played in three levels of Finnish hockey this season. He had three assists in seven games with the Junior A HPK U20 squad and added two goals and two assists in 17 games for HPK in the Liiga, Finland's highest level of hockey, before being loaned to LeKi of Mestis, the country's second-highest leve. In Mestis, Almari posted a goal and three assists in his first 14 games. Interestingly, he was plus-7 in the Liiga and minus-5 so far at the lower Mestis level, likely a result of LeKi's sub-.500 ninth-place standing. Almari has skill, but he will have to muscle up from 168 pounds if he has any hope of being an NHL defenseman. Mark Allan

July 2016 – With the last pick in the fifth round of 2016 NHL draft, Pittsburgh selected a mobile defenseman with strong footwork who received a good amount of ice time with Jokerit U20 in the 2015-16 season. He's confident offensively, showing good poise and vision with the puck. He improved defensively quite a bit and he also became more assertive with his puck management. Almari has a strong stick but he will need to add more muscle to be able to compete at the men's level. Still, there was a lot to like about his development towards the end of the season. Marco Bombino

 

Fantasy Outlook: D+

A long-term project who likely won't play in the NHL for a few seasons; but could have a future in North America with improvement.

 

Footage:

Coming soon...

 

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