2020-21 Team: TPS / Liiga
Date of Birth: Sep. 25, 2002
Place of Birth: Kaarina, Fin
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 205 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 57th (amongst EU skaters)
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 100th
- Andrew Forbes’ May Rankings: 87th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: Honorable Mention
- Smaht Scouting: 91st
When you are looking at a player heading into a draft, you have to consider more than just their general statistics. Sometimes, a prospect may be competing against more developed opponents, which can keep their scoring totals down despite their strong toolkit.
In the discussion of 2021 NHL Draft hopeful Eetu Liukas, this is the case. If you looked just at his statistics page this season, you will see a player who posted three points in 19 games played. While those totals may be underwhelming, you have to consider who his competition was.
For the majority of the 2020-21 season, Liukas played against men with TPS of Liiga, the top professional hockey league in Finland, despite only being 18 years old. When he played four games against opponents closer to his own age in the TPS U20, his offensive upside was more apparent, even while being one of the youngest players on the ice.
Also, Liukas is more than just offensive production. He plays a smart defensive game while getting the call to take on ice time short-handed and is learning how to use his size to play strong on the boards while adding some physicality to the line-up.
What this means is that Liukas could be a bit of a hidden gem at the draft. He is a player who is taking on meaningful minutes against men as a teenager, which could put him in a great position to develop his power forward frame and skill in the coming years.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Eetu Liukas – NHL Draft Projection
When you think about it, Liukas is a player who could have been more highly rated in a normal scouting cycle. He didn’t get the opportunity to play against opponents his own age on the international stage, which could have been a boon to his draft stock.
Despite this, players with Liukas’ size and potential are coveted by NHL general managers. While he is often projected as a mid-to-late third-round pick, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him slide up the board on draft day, as size often speaks more than statistics.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
With this in mind, I would expect Liukas to hear his name called in the late second-round, or in the opening of the third-round. He could fall past that point, but it seems unlikely that he would go much past the mid third-round.
Liukas is big and powerful, and he enjoys the physical brand of hockey… He seems to be a modern day power forward who can be utilized in any situation because he’s so responsible defensively.
Big physical forward (who) finishes checks with authority… plays with snarl and won’t back down from a challenge…Steve Kourianos – thedraftanalysis.com
- NHL caliber power forward frame
- Great defensive tendencies
- Plays with a bit of snarl to his game
- Willing to fight the tough battles along the boards.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
While he has the toolkit to eventually play in the NHL, Liukas will need to develop his skating before he will be able to make that transition. Right now, he is just an average skater, who seems to struggle at times moving his large frame around the ice. If he can round out this facet of his game by adding a bit more speed to his first step, it would go a long way to him eventually reaching the NHL.
While he likely will never be that top-end scoring threat, Liukas has the build and toolkit to become a solid mid-six NHL winger. Defensive responsibility and some snarl is needed to win championships, after all, and Liukas could one day provide that to the franchise that drafts him.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5
Given the fact that Liukas is playing against men in Liiga, he is in a great spot to develop his game in the coming years. If he is selected in the third round, then there is little risk to this pick, as he can just stay in Europe and continue to learn against strong competition.
If he can’t develop his skating, though, that would limit his upside, but even with this flaw right now, he is still that perfect power forward prospect any general manager would love to add to their farm system.
Eetu Liukas Statistics
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.