Three more Boston Bruins prospects outside the North American Pro Leagues began their 2021-2022 season last week. They are Matias Mantykivi with Ilves Tampere in Finland’s Liiga, Linus Arnesson with Djurgardens IF of the SHL and Oskar Jellvik with Djurgardens IF J20 of the J20 Nationell. They join Peter Cehlarik and Roman Bychkov, both in the KHL, who began there seasons a week earlier. Realistically, at this point I think only two of these five have a chance to don a Bruins jersey in the future.
This week we’ll focus on Mantykivi, the Bruins 6th round pick, 185th overall at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. During his draft season, Mantykivi was all over the map. He appeared with SaiPa Under-18 (SM-sarja), SaiPa Under-20 (SM-liiga), Kettera (Mestis) and even got a taste with SaiPa in Finland’s top league, Liiga.
The 5-foot 11-inch, 165-pound center – left winger was over a point per game player in both the Under-18 and Under-20 but in two seasons in Finland’s top league, has been unable to find his offensive game. We’ll be fair, he played as an 18- and 19-year-old against men and in 91 career Liiga games has 5 goals and 11 helpers.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, then we’d know that it is a long shot for a sixth-round pick to play in the NHL. At that stage of the draft, you are trying to find players that need a lot of development time and patience and even then, they may not make it at all. Such patience is the case with Mantykivi. He’s not the fastest skater but does possess some good quickness. It appears early on that he’s put some work in on his blades.
Mantykivi has also shown flashes of having a solid hockey IQ. He sees the ice fairly well and knows how and when to get into open spaces but not nearly consistent. He’s not a shoot first kind of player, always seemingly looking to set up plays rather than take the shot himself. That’s fine, unless you’re passing up a better opportunity to take the shot yourself. His most impressive feature is his work ethic, at least in the o-zone.
It’s easy to look at Mantykivi’s quick rise through the Finnish leagues and come away thinking there is some potential there. There may just be, but it’s going to take some time with him. We’ve already mentioned he needs to improve his speed. For a smaller guy, that’s a necessity. But he really needs to add some bulk to his frame. He’s not shy about throwing the odd hit, but he’s not going to do any harm in the AHL let alone the NHL. And because of that lack of speed, he can be caught and knocked off the puck to easily.
I’ve seen it mentioned in other places that his lack of speed hurts him defensively, often being the last man back. Personally, I think it’s more a lack of effort. If he put in the same effort coming back into his own zone as he does entering the offensive zone, we’d have a different result.
Just an honest opinion, and trying to be fair: It’s only been one game and maybe it was an off night. We’ll continue to track Mantykivi throughout the season and provide you with updates as the season moves along. Here’s to hoping he takes the next step.
The Bruins hold Mantykivi’s rights until June 1, 2023 in which he would become a free agent if not signed.
Here are the updated stats from the Bruins prospects playing outside the North American professional leagues. If you’re looking for stats on prospects playing professional hockey in North America, you can find the Providence Bruins stats here and the Maine Mariners here. Both are of course blank for now as the AHL and ECHL seasons have yet to begin.