— Gregory Balloch (@GregBalloch) June 27, 2016
Before going short, the Flames went big in round six, picking up Eetu Tuulola. It seemed like a typical Brian Burke pick: big, truculent, pugnacity, good hockey ass, etcetera, and picked in an inconsequential round. Burkie saw his dimensions and decided that he must be picked, skill be damned.
But it was no gamble. Tuulola was there on draft day with no accompaniment besides his agent, waiting for the Flames to pick him. The team wanted him, and with good reason. The kid has some very real skill right now, and some great potential in the future.
A brief history
Since 13, Tuulola has played with his hometown HPK, travelling through the various junior leagues in the Finnish system. He was mostly ahead of the pack, making his U17 and U18 debuts in his age 14 year, his U20 debut in his age 16 year, and his Liiga debut at 17. Throughout his Finnish career, he picked up 84 goals in 184 games, which is pretty good.
He has also been a go-to for Team Finland. At age 18, he’s already played 52 international games and racked up 31 points along the way plus a U18 WJC gold medal.
|GP-G-A-P||Primary Points||5v5 P1||NHLe|
There’s much to love about Eetu, but the unfortunate thing is that he doesn’t have great numbers.
He wasn’t throwing up the numbers Dube and Phillips were. He was pretty consistent as the weeks went on, but it’s hard to get excited when he isn’t scoring with volume.
Perhaps we can offer a few explanations. He began the season with an injury, taking up valuable acclimatizing time. However, the most probable cause is his low, low ice time.
At an estimated 11.09 minutes of 5v5 icetime, he is behind seven of Everett’s regular forwards. It may be because he’s the new guy, because being on the third line is certainly not indicative of his talent. He has an estimated 5v5 P/60 higher than all but two of those forwards, so that’s very promising.
A comparison I have made in the past is that he could be this year’s Cliff Pu. The London Knights winger, buried by a very talented team, went nuts during the playoffs and earned the attention of scouts, eventually becoming the 69th overall pick in the previous year’s draft.
All stats are 5v5
For what it’s worth, Pu is now London’s leading scorer.
We all love Eetu. He’s our own babyfaced assassin/philosopher who loves to score goals and raise hell.
But it may not be his time to shine just yet. Of those seven forwards with more ice time, only one of them has to move on. Perhaps Eetu earns the trust of his coaches and gets the top six minutes that his scoring justifies, and he gets a real opportunity to shine in the WHL. Everything is possible in this life.