2008 prospects: Jacob Markstrom and Harri Sateri

By Leslie Treff

Jacob Markstrom and Harri Sateri are the top two European netminders available in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Both have international tournament experience and both are anxious to play in North America. But they will have to wait to do so, as they are under contract in Europe and each expects to spend at least two more years with his European team. Although Markstrom and Sateri could be selected in the first round of tomorrow’s draft, it is more likely that each player will hear his name called on Saturday morning than tomorrow night among the NHL team’s top 30 player choices.

According to both NHL Central Scouting and ISS, Markstrom is the highest ranked European goaltender in the draft. Tall with good lateral vertical movement and an excellent glove, the 6’4.5”, 178 lb Swedish netminder has been very successful this season. He obviously takes up a lot of the net, and is a butterfly goalie, who plays with a lot of confidence. According to Markstrom, his greatest strength is “that I never give up on the puck and I hate to lose. I just feel incredibly competitive in net, which I see as being very positive.” Although he still needs to work on not committing too early, and says that he is working hard on a weakness of rebound control.

Excellent between the pipes for Brynas (in both the Junior A and Junior Elite leagues) over the last two years, Markstrom needs at least one or two more years of experience playing in the Elite League or in the AHL before being NHL-ready. Chances are that most of that experience will come from across the pond, as Markstrom has two more years on his contract with Brynas. Additionally, he estimates that it may even be two years beyond that before he is ready to play regularly in North America.

On the plus side, Markstrom did get very good international experience over the last two seasons. He began his international career playing for Sweden‘s national U-17 team during 2006-07 season (where he recorded a 2.57 GAA and .924 save percentage), and then played in the 2007 U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, where he was between the pipes when Sweden won the tournament’s gold medal. Additionally, just this past April, Markstrom was the No. 1 netminder for Sweden at the U-18 WJCs in Russia. Named the best player on the Swedish U18 WJC team by the coaches involved in the tournament, Markstrom appeared in six games, was in net for Sweden’s four wins, and posted a GAA of 3.04.

Easy-going off the ice, Markstrom likes to spend time relaxing with friends and family when not playing hockey. He credits his parents, who do not play hockey, with being most influential in his career thus far.

Sateri also has a friendly nature, loves to laugh with friends, and is very social. A butterfly netminder, who is excellent at challenging the shooter and staying square to the puck, Sateri has international experience at a higher level than Markstrom (having played in the U-20 WJCS in the Czech Republic last winter).

At the U-20 WJCs in the Czech Republic this past December, Sateri was between the pipes in three games, which was remarkable considering that it was intended that he be a backup to Tampa Bay top prospect Riku Helenius. Although Sateri was unable to win any of his games at the WJCs this year, the international experience was invaluable and he hopes to get another opportunity to play in the tournament again this year, in Ottawa.

The 6’1, 200 lb Finnish netminder has spent the last two seasons playing for Tappara of the Finnish Junior A League. In 34 games during the 2007-08 season, Sateri posted a 2.99 GAA and had a 13-17 record with his team. Although he only has one more year on his contract with Tappara, Sateri expects that he will remain in Europe for another two to three years prior to coming to North America to play professional hockey here.

When asked about his hockey hero, Sateri’s face lit up — Atlanta Thrashers goaltender Kari Lehtonen is the player he emulates. The younger goalie has watched films of Lehtonen and works hard to pattern his game after him. In fact, when talking to HF, Sateri mentioned several times how hard he works to perfect his game. An only child, who is the first in his family to play hockey, Sateri fell in love with the game as a small child after watching the NHL on television. When he is not on the ice protecting his crease, Sateri enjoys playing golf and tennis, as well as hanging out with friends and family.