This article is a part of a series where Finnish Junior Hockey will aim to bring in-depth articles on drafted prospects. The idea is to give readers a close look at the players’ strengths, weaknesses, and how they are progressing since being drafted. For now, we are aiming to publish at least one article each week.
Calgary Flames prospect Eetu Tuulola is a fresh Liiga champion, as his team HPK beat Kärpät 2-1 in Game 7 today. Tuulola played 18 playoff games, registering three goals, three assists and eight penalty minutes.
His point totals from the Liiga season may not jump off the page. However, the more you watch him play, the more you start to appreciate his game. He did record an eight-game point streak which ended on November 3, putting up ten points (5 goals and 5 assists) in that span. And despite scoring fewer goals than in the 2017-18 regular season, he was still tied for most game-winning goals on the team (4).
Tuulola is a budding power forward who plays a heavy, intensive game. He finishes his checks with authority and utilizes his size as an asset. He works well on the cycle and he can also use his size as leverage to protect the puck down low and along the boards. His endurance enables him to consistently play with high energy. What Tuulola seems to lack is speed and explosiveness. His skating looks a tad heavy and especially his acceleration from a standstill needs work. His balance is pretty good, though. In order to become an impact NHL player, he needs to keep working on his skating.
What I really like about Tuulola’s offensive game is his net-front presence, not only at 5-on-5 but also on the power play. Six of his 13 goals this season came on the man advantage. He doesn’t shy away from battling near the cage and he can be very dangerous around the net. As evidenced in the latter clip below, Tuulola does have some finesse to his game and doesn’t just score greasy goals.
All in all, I liked what I saw from Tuulola in the Liiga this season and I think he’s making steady progress, even though I did expect more of an impact in the playoffs. He contributes with his excellent net-front presence and the physical tools are evident. Tuulola has an accurate and hard wrist shot, but needs some time and space to release it. With additional speed and explosiveness, I think he will become an even more effective player in the coming years.