2021-22 Team: Jokerit U20 (SM-sarja)
Date of Birth: Mar 1, 2004
Place of Birth: Helsinki, FIN
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 28th (among EU skaters)
- FC Hockey: 71st
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 61st
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 68th
While first round talents Brad Lambert and Joakim Kemell are getting most of the attention as the top prospects to come out of Finland, the talent doesn’t stop there as there are plenty of names that should garner some attention. One of them is defenseman Kasper Kulonummi.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Kulonummi is a very effective puck-moving defender that possesses strong awareness and a very sound defensive game. When watching him play, he isn’t flashy by any means, as he displays a very responsible and mature game for his age. He’s always in position and displays great smarts as he’s able to read each play and think quickly with his decision making. He’s very noticeable in transition, moving quickly through the neutral zone with his smooth stride and great speed and mobility while distributing the puck effectively. As a result of his skating, it makes him hard to slow down as a defender. He’s very confident when in control and leading the play and he doesn’t seem to falter when dealing with pressure.
Kulonummi does a great job to play with pace and keep things simple. In tough situations, he’s able to use a combination of his smarts as well as his skating and edges to bide some time and make a play when the opportunity presents itself. Taking that extra second to slow things down so that his team can regroup and evaluate his options shows his ability to read the situation perfectly.
Offensively, Kulonummi has a strong 0.725 point per game rate while 18 of his 29 points are primary points. He’s a very effective play maker as he’s able to make crisp tape to tape passes either breaking out of the defensive zone or moving the play in the offensive zone. He does a great job at jumping in to make a pinch and keep the play alive or regain possession and make a quick outlet pass. His skating and movement in the offensive zone allows him to find the open lanes and find the perfect opportunity to distribute the puck.
While he’s a great distributor, he could look to work on his shot and getting more pucks on net. His production wasn’t quite where it was in the second half of the season, dealing with some consistency issues in finding the score sheet.
Despite the lack of offensive upside, Kulonummi’s strength also lies in his defensive play as he has a very active stick and awareness to get into the lanes to break up plays. He does a great job at reading how the play will unfold and then picks his opportunity to break it up with a block or a timely stick check. He’s great at staying with his assignment to apply pressure and take any sort of time and space away. The smarts he has in his own end stand out, but he can work to add some muscle and be more engaged physically.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Kasper Kulonummi – NHL Draft Projection
Kulonummi really hasn’t showed up on many draft boards, though he has made an appearance here at The Hockey Writers. Currently playing for Finland at the World U18 Championship, if he has a strong tournament, he could definitely be on even more lists as a result of his steady play. Despite the questions surrounding his offensive upside, he definitely could be a very decent selection as a late second or early third-round pick.
“He reads and processes the game very well and has a high-panic threshold with the puck. You seldom see him make a hasty decision and he chooses the best options available to him while pressured. He is a strong, accurate passer and can adjust the type of pass he uses depending on the situation. He has good mobility and his edges are strong.”– Finnish Junior Hockey
“Kulonummi’s hockey sense is very good and he has the awareness to make the right decision more often than not. He maintains good positioning and anticipates many situations well. He also possesses a solid defensive game, controlling the gap pretty well and pressuring the puck carrier off the rush. His defensive zone game could be improved and he needs to gain a lot of strength, but it isn’t a huge detriment as he uses stick checks effectively.”– Eetu Siltanen, Dobber Prospects
“He’s a right-shot defenceman who skates very well, who processes the game extremely well, his edges are good, his first pass is good – in our opinion, he’s one of the top 2004 defencemen who is coming out of Europe and we just felt he was too good not to draft.”– Rob Papineau, vice-president of hockey operations and general manager of the Subury Wolves (from ‘Wolves begin work of recruiting latest import picks’, The Sudbury Star – 7/1/21)
- IQ and decision making
- Strong defensive game
- Crips passing
- Skating, edges and mobility
Under Construction- Improvements to Make
- Size and strength
- Offensive consistency
- Improve on shot
Kulonummi may not have the highest upside in the draft, but he still remains a responsible two-way defender with the ability to take control of a shift with his puck-moving mindset. He could be a very serviceable second or third pairing defender, benefitting with some time on the power play and penalty kill. Should the offensive production improve, his stock will rise.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk- 3/5, Reward 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense- 5/10, Defense 7/10
Kulonummi was drafted 63rd overall by the Sudbury Wolves in the 2021 CHL Import Draft. During the 2021-22 season, he won a gold medal for Finland at the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, where he had a goal and three assists. He was also named to the U20 SM-sarja First All-Star team. He was named assistant captain for Finland at the World U18 Championship.
Kasper Kulonummi Statistics
Statistics from Pick 224.
Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.