34

FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2019: #13 Eetu Tuulola

It’s rare for players taken late in the NHL Draft to amount to very much. But as 2016 Flames sixth round selection Eetu Tuulola proclaimed after he was selected: all things are possible in this life. After several years of progression and a couple productive years in Finland, Tuulola is bound for North America for the upcoming season.

He’s the 13th-ranked player on our 2019 prospects ranking.

How did we get here?

A product of Hameenliina, Finland – located just north of Helsinki – Tuulola grew up as the son of longtime Finnish pro Marko Tuulola, who played nearly 1,000 games in SM-Liiga. His older brother, Joni, is a Chicago Blackhawks prospect likely to play with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs in 2019-20.

The younger Tuulola sibling has steadily progressed since stepping into major competition within his hometown team, HPK, when he was 13.

  • 2011-12 [13 years old]: 9 points in 11 games in the U16s
  • 2012-13 [14]: 29 points in 32 games in the U16s
  • 2013-14 [15]: 51 points in 24 games in the U16s and 15 points in 18 games in the U18s
  • 2014-15 [16]: 28 points in 33 games in the U20s
  • 2015-16 [17]: 14 points in 29 games in the U20s and 1 point in 10 games in SM-Liiga
  • 2016-17 [18]: 31 points in 62 games in the WHL
  • 2017-18 [19]: 26 points in 51 games in SM-Liiga

The big-bodied right winger has jumped up the hockey ladder fairly consistently, either elevating his game by a level or upgrading his offensive output (sometimes both) for much of the past decade. The notable exception was his draft year (2015-16), where he dealt with adjusting to the pro game and the increased scrutiny of NHL scouts. He ended up being selected by the Flames in the sixth round, 156th overall.

He also represented Finland at a quartet of major international events: the Under-17s, the Under-18s, the Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the World Juniors. He’s never been the driver on an international team, but on a few occasions he’s been a strong role player.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

The 2018-19 campaign was Tuulola’s 20-year-old season and his second full pro campaign in the SM-Liiga.

GP G A Pts
SM-Liiga 60 13 23 36

He was sixth on his team in points, tied for fourth in goals and third on his team in penalty minutes – he tends to muck around in the corners and occasionally his rambunctiousness gets away from him. He helped HPK win their league championship, too. Relative to his age group, he was sixth in points among under-21 players, seventh in goals and fourth in penalty minutes.

For comparison’s sake, both Tuulola siblings had 63 points during their SM-Liiga tenures. Joni took 199 games to hit that market (0.36 points per game) while Eetu did it in 121 (0.52 points per game). So far in North America, Joni is at least a solid depth AHL player.

Those in the know

Finnish hockey writer Lassi Alanen scouts for Future Considerations and writes about prospects for Dobber Prospects (in addition to covering the NHL for Finnish outlet Jatkoaika. It’s safe to say he has some familiarity with Tuulola’s development.

He gave us his thoughts on how Tuulola’s 2018-19 campaign went in Finland.

Tuulola took a big and important step forward in his development last season. His D+1 season in the WHL was pretty terrible, and while he produced pretty well in 2017–2018, almost 60 percent of his points came on the power play. In 2018–2019, Tuulola was way more effective at even-strength. He could have had even more success, as he was one of the best on the team at producing expected goals and scoring chances but his overall shooting percentage dropped from 12.3 to 6.2. I liked how he supported his linemates at even-strength and utilized his frame in creating havoc around the net. His on-ice shot metrics were very good but there is also a strong team factor, as HPK was the best play-driving team in the league last season.

Alanen also gave his assessment of what Tuulola needs to improve to keep progressing in hockey.

Tuulola’s skating is still the biggest thing preventing me from being higher on him. There were improvements last season, though, so maybe he’ll get there eventually. In the best-case scenario, he would become a supportive third-line winger who could maybe contribute on the second power play unit.

On the horizon

Tuulola signed a three year entry level deal, so he’ll be in North America at least through the 2021-22 campaign. Based on the log-jam of more experienced bodies in Stockton – we’re looking at you Glenn Gawdin, Matthew Phillips, Ryan Lomberg, Buddy Robinson and Dillon Dube – it’s unlikely Tuulola will get any NHL time this season.

That said, given his size, scoring prowess and physicality, he could muscle his way into a depth role (or at least a call-up) over time with a strong first AHL season.

Previously

#20 – Lucas Feuk #19 – Josh Nodler
#18 – Linus Lindstrom #17 – Carl-Johan Lerby
#16 – Artyom Zagidulin #15 – Demetrios Koumontzis
#14 – Dustin Wolf



  • The GREAT WW

    After the draft THE GREAT WW suggested it would be fitting if 6th rounder ET had a better NHL career than super star prospect, number 4 overall pick, fell into Oilers lap, countryman Puljujarvi……

    Maybe all things are possible in this life……?
    We’ll see…..

    WW

    • where.is.ville?

      Didn’t somebody recently rank our prospects pool (i.e. the talent in Stockton) as the worst in the league. A review of the projected lineups for our AHL farm team does look pretty grim! We need to restock the cupboard.

        • cjc

          I think when it comes to prospect evaluation the writers are trying to provide context and give a sense of what their ceiling and floor is. They do a pretty good job of it IMO but to each their own.

      • cjc

        Corey Pronman, but he has been wrong in the past. Every team’s prospect pools go through cycles, and we need to remember that the presence of Lindholm, Hanifin and Hamonic on the team is a direct result of turning the potential of high-end picks into present day value. Let’s also not forget that several of Calgary’s recent firsts (and Rasmus Andersson, Andrew Mangiapane) are major contributors on the roster, or that a number of picks are about to crack it full time (Dube, Kylington). It’s not all sunshine and roses of course, but the situation isn’t as bad as all that.

    • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

      Glenn Gawdin, Josh Nodler, Matthew Phillips, etc could all be converted to RW as well. I watched Eetu Tuulola in Everett, my hopes are not high for him. You can’t round corners on the smaller ice like you can in Europe.

    • Albertabeef

      Agreed. I’d actually rank him closer to top 5-6, but that’s just me. Two years of adult pro hockey makes him more NHL ready than a lot of other players just entering their first or second year pro. I’m hoping that skating is not a major issue.

      • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

        Top 5-6?!?!? You clearly didn’t watch him in the WHL, he was downright LAZY and had terrible habits. No way this dude makes it in the NHL.

        • Albertabeef

          SM-Siga is not the WHL. I’m hoping that last two years was good for his development. If you compare his numbers last year in Sweden (36 points) to say Phillips and Gawdin at 38 points in the AHL last season. Gawdin didn’t make the list, and Phillips could land anywhere knowing these FN writers who voted. I think Eetu only played one season in the WHL, it was most likely his first extended period out of his country. He’s grown up and hopefully matured. I’m excited to see if and what grown his game has seen. Just wish I could have got tickets to the exhibition game here in Victoria Sept 15th :(.

          • cjc

            FN ranked Parsons #8 last year, I can’t see that improving based on how his season went. I am not sure they would put MEP ahead of Phillips – Phillips was #7 last year, he had a strong AHL rookie season and he saw Kylington, Andersson and Mangiapane graduate ahead of him. My guess for 1-5 would be Valimaki-Pelletier-Dube-Phillips-MEP, though I can see Sveningsson getting some votes up there, too.

  • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

    Eetu Tuulola 13th?!?!?!?! Hahaha.

    Rating prospects can’t just be doing it by what their NHLe was last year.

    I’ll give him some of the benefit of the doubt for playing in Everett back in the Kevin Constantine era, but he wasn’t good in the WHL. I watched him a couple of times in the WHL and he didn’t even know where the corners of the rink were. He just waited for pucks to come to him, I just can’t ever see him being successful in the NHL where you can’t round corners or take shifts off. The physical tool package is appealing, but it really ends right there from my viewings. Maybe things are different this time around, but if you can’t crack 35 Points as a 18 year old in the WHL what does that say…

    Josh Nodler, Demetrios Koumontzis, Lucas Feuk, Artyom Zagidulin, Carl Lerby, even Glenn Gawdin, are legit potential future NHL talents. Eetu Tuulola is going to play one or two years in the AHL to moderate success and then he’ll be back in Finland. Hopefully I am wrong, but this ranking isn’t based off of his play in the WHL that’s for sure.

  • wot96

    Hopefully he spends the summer working really hard on his skating. He may not need to be the most agile guy if he works in the corners and the front of the net, but he does need to get from A to B in a hurry.