Today, JYP Jyväskylä announced they have signed forward Julius Nättinen to a three-year contract. The Anaheim Ducks put the 21-year-old center on waivers yesterday in order to terminate his contract. Nättinen spent the past season with the Ducks’ AHL affiliate San Diego Gulls, recording 12 points (4-8-12) in 55 games.
Nättinen’s first pro season wasn’t very productive and while his development seems to have stagnated, he remains an interesting player with the potential to make a career in North America. He was a standout in JYP juniors at a very young age and played 24 games with the U20 team in his 16-year-old season. He has always been very skilled with good speed, shot and a playmaking element, too. I remember watching him play at the U15 World Selects tournament in 2012 in Finland – Nättinen and Aleksi Saarela were among the true standouts on the Finnish team. Both already looked top prospects in the making.
However, at present, I think Nättinen needs to work most on his consistency, strength and defensive effort. If he manages to become a more well-rounded player and adjusts to the Liiga game in the next few seasons, he may get a new opportunity from an NHL team. Nättinen could be a key player for JYP already this season, even though the team has strong depth at center.