It’s been quite the month for big Finnish winger Eetu Tuulola.
First he was drafted in the 6th round by the Calgary Flames. Then he was selected in the WHL draft by the Everett Silvertips. Then he participated in his first ever NHL prospect camp where he was perhaps the most dominant player on the ice during the scrimmage.
He also became a favourite new prospect of FlamesNation thanks to incredible quotes like “Everything is possible in this life” and “I love to score goals.” Not too shabby.
On top of all that, an article out of Finland suggests Tuulola might be headed to the WHL to play his next season.
The article in question is here from HPK.com. For those of you who don’t speak Finnish, here’s a rough translation from google:
HPK ‘s Eetu Tuulola an attacker to use a playing contract of the option and moves to Canada for the period 2016-2017 WHL junior league reads .
Tuulola was reserved earlier in the summer NHL team Calgary Flames on numbers 156 .
Tuulolan contract covers HPK with another period 2017-2018. HPK ‘s head coach Antti Pennanen would be happy to have Tuulolan the team. League is a good series to develop young players, not least because the player is playing men’s games and is also time for training. We would be happy to have seen Eetu fighting HPK ‘s shirt. I also believe that we would be able to support the development of Eetua towards professionalism. Eetu respect your decision and wish you all the best Eetu next season.
There’s some reading between the lines there, but it points to Eetu leaving HPK for the WHL.
Although the Sm-Liiga is a superior league, moving overseas can potentially benefit Tuulola’s development. It puts him in closer contact with the Flames so they can monitor his progress and it makes it more likely he will get a lot of games and a primary role. Though playing in a pro league against men can be potentially beneficial for prospects, there’s a risk of their ice time being limited. For instance, Tuulola actually only appeared in 10 games for HKP last year, instead bouncing between the senior and junior teams.
Mikael Backlund made a similar decision to move to the WHL in his draft+2 season. That year, his ice time was being severely restricted by the coach of Vasteras IK, so he jumped ship mid-season to the dominant Kelowna Rockets. The move seems to have worked out for him int he long run.
Selfishly, we as Flames fans will also be able to follow Tuulola a lot easier if he’s playing on the side of the pond. And judging from his prospect camp performance he might be a guy to keep an eye on.