With the 46th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers have selected Samu Tuomaala from Kärpät of the Finnish Elite League.
With the strange circumstances of the 2020-21 hockey season, many European players entered the draft with the benefit of exposure. Tuomaala managed 42 games at different levels, more than many of his peers. And despite not thriving in the Elite League among men (he only played five games there), he looked fantastic among his peers, especially at the U-18 World Junior Championship, where he managed 11 points and finished tied for fifth in scoring. It helped him establish himself as one of the top-10 right-wing prospects in this draft.
At 5-foot-10, 176 pounds, Tuomaala is undersized and struggles to penetrate into the interior. But he compensates for it with great skating, an attribute prized by any NHL general manager. Above all, he carries on the tradition of great Finnish goal-scorers. It may take time for him to arrive in the NHL, but when he does, he has the chance to be a scoring winger in the middle six.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Tuomaala is first and foremost a goal scorer. He loves to shoot but doesn’t do it without regard. He works hard to get into the dangerous shooting locations, rather than just flinging the puck from the periphery. All too often prospects will try to beat goaltenders from far out, which will not serve them well as they ascend in league difficulty. Tuomaala does not have this negative trait.
“One of the things that allow him to get into good scoring positions is his skating. He’s fast enough to get breakaway opportunities, which he can often convert on due to his good shot. He also possesses good edge work, which allows him the stability and power to maneuver tight spaces.
“His hockey intelligence is also very good. He knows where to be to receive the pass and he knows how to position himself to fire a one-timer. He creates space for himself with his skating but also is adept at giving up the puck and finding more open space to either create or shoot.
“Tuomaala spent most of the 2020-21 season with the under 20 squad from Karpat tallying 15 goals and 16 assists in 30 games. In his five games with the main professional squad, he had no points. He will certainly benefit from another season or two of development playing for Karpat before crossing the pond to North America.”
How This Affects the Flyers’ Plans
A very strong end to the season could put Tuomaala on the right track to develop more quickly than many expect, but the fact that he sank to the middle of the second round indicates that NHL GMs aren’t completely convinced. He’ll join a Philadelphia Flyers pipeline replete with lots of young talent. In selecting Tuomaala immediately after trading Jakub Voracek for Cam Atkinson, the Flyers add a player who could one day project to be a replacement for Atkinson in the future.
Stephen Ground is a veteran of over three years at THW, focusing on the St. Louis Blues, NHL goaltending, and the annual World Junior Championship. He is the co-host of the Two Guys One Cup Podcast, a hockey podcast focused on the Blues.