Teemu Laakso
Image: Holly Gunning/HF

Teemu Laakso

Hometown:

Tuusula Finland

Currently Playing In:

Pro

Birthday:

1987-08-27

Position:

D

Eligible for draft:

2005

Shoots:

Right

Drafted:

2005

Height:

6-1

Acquired:

3rd round (78th overall), 2005

Weight:

209 lbs.

Probability of Success
  • C

History

2003-04: For his age, Laakso enjoyed a significant breakout. His move from the fringes of the capital city area to the large organization of IFK Helsinki coincided with becoming by far the age group's best defenseman. As the best defenseman and a winner of the 2004 Viking Cup, not to mention a point per game in the U18 WC that year, he became a top prospect in no time.

2004-05: Unfortunately he lost his offseason to injury, which set him back in the first half of 2004-05. The winter was most successful for him. First he was the youngest defenseman to play for Finland in the WJC in modern times, and after that he played a good while with IFK's battered pro team. Laakso was down on his luck again as an ankle injury sidelined him for the postseason and rendered him totally ineffective in the 2005 U18 WC.

2007-08: The season was a bit of a let down – Finland finished a disappointing sixth-place at the WJC and HIFK struggled in the SM-Liiga as well – finishing seventh.  Laakso displayed his physical play at the WJC – but also may have shown a lack of discipline with 52 penalty minutes including a game misconduct. On the plus side, he had three goals and became more active in the attack.

2008-09: Laakso appeared in 42 games with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals. The Finnish blueliner scored 2 goals, 7 assists for 9 points and earned 50 PIMs in his first taste of North American hockey.

2009-10: Laakso got 7 NHL games with Nashville in his second season but did not score. In 46 AHL games with Milwaukee, he scored 4 goals, 9 assists for 13 points. The defenseman added 1 goal, 2 assists for 3 points in 7 playoff games with the Admirals.

2010-11: Laakso made just one NHL appearance with the Nashville Predators in his third pro season; skating in 74 of 80 games for the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals. Laakso had four shifts and played less than three minutes in an October game with Dallas. Laakso was one of the top pairing defensemen for the Admirals and showed an offensive touch late in the season when Jonathan Blum was re-called by the Predators. Laakso had the top plus/minus among Milwaukee defensemen (+15) and scored 8 goals with 22 assists and 46 PMs. The Admirals finished first in the West Division and advanced to the second round. Laakso skated in 8 of 13 playoff games for the Admirals, spending time with Nashville during the NHL playoffs though he did not play in any games. He was +3 with 1 goal and 1 assist in the post-season. Laakso was re-signed to a one-year contract by the Predators as an unrestricted free agent in June 2011.

 

Talent Analysis

Six feet and 190 pounds are just enough for Laakso to play the kind of physical defense he likes, although playing among professionals was tough schooling for him. On ice his frame looks similar in size to those of players who weigh well over 200 pounds and right now Laakso is far from a strong player, so he has much untapped potential in that area. He is also speedy and skates well in all directions. What he does with the puck isn't anything fancy, but his hands and hockey sense are easily good enough for an aspiring power play quarterback. He often takes very strong shots from the blueline. With nothing notable in the way of flaws in his game, the biggest question mark in Laakso's case is being somewhat injury prone.

 

Future

Laakso projects as a two-way defenseman. It should begin to become apparent this year whether Laakso was just a very big junior player who was ahead of others at an early age or he is someone with the ability to develop into an NHL player.