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FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2020: #15 Eetu Tuulola

The 2016 NHL Draft feels like an eternity ago. In reality, the post-Matthew Tkachuk calendar (PMT for short) still holds some interesting potential for prospects four years removed from their selection. The Flames have seen the emergence of sixth-round picks recently (see Mangiapane, Andrew) and the 156th overall pick from 2016, Eetu Tuulola, is hoping to rise up the ranks as well.

He’s 15th on this year’s prospect countdown.

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Most Flames fans will recall his memorable showing at the 2016 development camp scrimmage where his physicality, three tallies, and “everything is possible in this life” mantra raised eyebrows.

How did we get here?

The sizeable exemplar of Finnish truculence hails from Hameenliina and went pro at 17 with HPK in Liiga. After being selected 2016 by the Flames and following a tough stint with WHL’s Everett in his D+1 season, Tuulola returned to Europe with HPK where he found his game again and started making strides.

This past year he made the jump to Stockton and, while there was nothing dazzling about his AHL performance, showed off his physical flair and offensive potential on the North American ice making a case that he is still a worthwhile project.

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While he had been on loan to Swedish club Vasterviks IK to start 2020, putting up two goals and two assists in 11 games, his roster spot has been filled and he has since left the club.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

The natural right winger finished 11th in team scoring in his first season with the Heat this past year tallying 10 goals and 23 points over his 50 games.

Season Team League GP Goals Assists Points
2017-18> HPK Hameenlinna SM-li 51 16 10 26
2018-19 HPK Hameenlinna SM-li 60 13 23 36
2019-20 Stockton Heat AHL 50 10 13 23
2020-21 Vasterviks IK Swe-1 11 2 2 4

He continued to be a secondary scoring threat on the power play with the Heat while his production was more evenly distributed between special teams and even strength.

LEAGUE SEASON GP Primary Points / GP EV Goals EV Primary Points PP Goals PP Primary Points
Liiga 2018 51 0.3922 7 10 9 10
Liiga 2019 60 0.3667 7 12 6 9
AHL 2020 50 0.3400 6 11 3 5

(Source: Pick224.com)

Consistency was an issue at even strength as portrayed by his 46.67 EV GF% and -5.64 EV GF% Rel.

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Additionally, he picked up his points in bunches. He was strong out of the gate scoring four times for the Heat in the first month of the season. He put together another strong stretch book-ending November and December with a five-game point streak. This was followed by a mid-December to mid-February drought where he only tallied two points in 22 games.

Those in the know

Despite an up and down season Stockton bench boss Cail MacLean pointed to Tuulola’s habits and work ethic as positives:

I think that he had a solid season. Eetu’s a guy, he’s a humble hard-working young player and he has a great shot, and he puts himself in a good position to get that off. And I think he had more success earlier in the year with goal-scoring than he did in the second half, I think that is something that is not totally uncommon for a young player coming into this league.

Further, MacLean emphasized the importance of finding consistency in terms of the 22-year old’s development:

Now the challenge coming into this year coming is how to continue to find that consistency with the scoring, and that consistency with his ability to use what a great frame he has, he’s a big player, he’s got good hands in tight, and so he is a guy that with his dedication, the work he puts into things, I think he’ll have a great leg up with all of this time that we’ve had and he’ll be able to come out really strong.

On the horizon

As mentioned, his time on loan to Vasterviks IK came to an end last week. It’s unknown if the Flames will loan him out elsewhere. We’ll see him in Stockton if and when NHL and AHL camps open for the upcoming season.

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Perhaps you’d like to see more production and progress from Tuulola in his first season at the AHL level but he’s still a project. He still plays within the fabric of the game, has offensive upside with physical prowess and can rifle the rubber.

His upcoming year is critical. He hasn’t popped yet, and maybe he never will, but his incremental improvement since his lacklustre WHL season combined with his unique skill set is keeping us hopeful. He still has the tools to make it work, now it’s about finding consistency and putting it together. Everything is possible in this life.

FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2020

The no-votes Missed the cut
#20: Tyler Parsons #19: Alexander Yelesin
#18: Ryan Francis #17: Martin Pospisil
#16: Luke Philp