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Top 25 Under 25: #9 Sami Niku

With one game and one goal on his NHL resume, this defender comes in at number nine.

Winnipeg Jets v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Top 25 Under 25 -
#9 - Sami Niku
6’1” 176lbs - Defence - Shoots Left
AHL 2017-2018 Season: 76 GP - 16G - 38A - 54PTS - 30PIM
AHL 2018-2019 Season: 2 GP - 0G - 0A - 0PTS - 0PIM
NHL 2017-2018 Season: 1 GP - 1G - 0A - 1PTS - 0PIM

Sami Niku may not have cracked the Winnipeg Jets roster to start the 2018-19 season, but ti seems like it’s just a matter of time.

Quoting myself from back in April, “Niku won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s top defenceman for the 2017-18 season.

Niku is just the second rookie to win the award since it was first presented in 1959, with Justin Schultz being the first in 2013. Niku was picked in the 7th round, 198th overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.”

Niku, who turned 22 on Wednesday, is currently paired up with Tucker Poolman as the top pairing for the Manitoba Moose, which should provide valuable playing time for both players while they await their next opportunity with the Jets.

Unlike some of the other young talent in the Jets prospect pipeline, Niku is entering his fifth season in pro hockey, having played three years at that level in Europe before crossing the pond.

He skates very well, and passes well too. He also shoots pretty well too, which is why he scored a goal in his first career game.

He needs to develop his defensive game if he is to make it in the NHL, but looking at the talent ahead of him on the left side of defence (with the notable exception of Josh Morrissey) there is room ahead of him for progression.