The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan focuses on small Finnish forward Otto Kivenmaki in his Wednesday notebook. Kivenmaki was drafted at somewhere between 5’6″ and 5’7″ and approximately 130 pounds; he’s up to 5’8″ and 154 pounds this summer, and the Assat Pori forward believes that he can earn a full-time spot on his Finnish Liiga men’s team by continuing to focus on adding strength:
“I got bigger and stronger, so that’s good,” Kivenmaki said. “I noticed this summer, being in the corners, I wouldn’t fall so easily. That helps a lot. I have to get bigger. I still don’t weigh much compared to the other guys. There’s still improvement.”
So what does Kivenmaki have to do to combat his lack of size?
“I just have to be smarter and quicker,” Kivenmaki said. “You have to know what you want to do before you get the puck. You can’t stand around. You have to move around and outsmart them.”
Wings director of player development Shawn Horcoff spoke bluntly regarding Kivenmaki’s long-term potential:
“He definitely has natural smarts,” Horcoff said. “Is he going to be strong enough? Can he develop a stronger core of his lower body to protect the puck in traffic? He’s come a long way since last year. He really finished the season well.
“If you want to win you have to get into those hard areas, but the only way to do that is to be strong enough to take the pounding against the big guys in the league. It’s up to him to put the work in. He’s definitely a project and will take some time.”