2020-21 Team: Karpat (#27)
Date of Birth: Jan. 8, 2003
Place of Birth: Oulu, Finland
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 10th (amongst EU skaters)
- FCHockey: 38th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 32nd
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): 37th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 34th
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 23rd
- Smaht Scouting: 26th
- The Draft Analyst: 17th
- Dobber Prospects: 26th
The 2021 NHL Draft is unique for many reasons. Several draft-eligible players had their season disrupted by COVID-19. There is no consensus top pick in this draft, though there are several defensemen ranked in the top 10. At forward there is considerably more variation in the rankings. As of this writing, the OHL has still yet to start, the WHL just started having games, and the QMJHL has started and stopped games. In Finland, the league was suspended for about two weeks in December but has managed to play most of the season. This is really beneficial for prospects like Samu Tuomaala.
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.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
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.
Samu Tuomaala – NHL Draft Projection
Most sources have Tuomaala as an early second-round selection, which seems fair for his skillset. Though many of his skills are high-end, there is still much of his game that needs to be rounded into form and he needs to show he can contribute against stronger competition. Of note, Andrew Forbes of The Hockey Writers, Smaht Scouting, and Dobber Prospects all have him as a late first. The Draft Analyst and Eetu Siltanen have him as a mid-first-round pick. Either way, whether it’s on day one or early on day two, Tuomaala should hear his name get called fairly early during the draft.
“A fiery sniper who excels at using a defenseman against his own goalie, Tuomaala has been one of the SM-Sarja’s top scorers among first-year eligibles. Samu is a prolific scorer who can pile up points in bunches – he’s already notched nine multi-point efforts in 25 games.” –Steve Kourianos, The Draft Analyst
“Tuomaala is a sniper with a deadly wrist shot and ability to score from different kinds of situations. He’s an excellent skater who can drive the play and carry the puck using his skating-skills combination.” -Eetu Siltanen, regional scout for Dobber Prospects covering Finland (personal communication)
“A play-driving winger with great speed and an abundance of confidence. Has kept his head above water defensively in the top tier.” –Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects
- Scoring ability
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Like many players at the junior level who are very offensively minded, Tuomaala is not great defensively. It’s not that he can’t be, but he is certainly often more focused on trying to create than he is trying to defend. With his skating, hockey intelligence, and worth ethic, this aspect of his game seems like it will improve with time.
According to Dobber Prospect’s Finnish scout Eetu Siltanen, “Tuomaala has a high upside as he has a chance to be as good as a top-6 winger in the NHL” (personal communication). While he is by no means a for sure top-line winger in the NHL, he has many of the tools that you would want at this stage of development, namely the shot, skating, and hockey intelligence. The rest will depend on how he develops from here.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10, Defense 4/10
- U16 Pahjola Camp Roster for Karpat (2017-18)
- U16 SM-Sarja II All-Star Team (2017-18)
- U16 SM-Sarja Rookie of the Year (2017-18)
- U16 SM-Sarja Silver Medal for Karpat (2017-18)
- U18 SM-Sarja Rookie of the Year (2018-19)
- U18 SM-Sarja Second All-Star Team (2018-19)
Samu Tuomaala Statistics
Victor Nuño is a physician in private practice in Santa Cruz and an associate professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Touro University in California. He is an avid hockey fan ever since the San Jose Sharks joined the NHL in 1991. He plays, watches, and consumes everything related to hockey, but especially the Sharks and AHL affiliate Barracuda. In addition, he is a father to two beautiful young girls and husband to a wonderful wife. Follow me @VictorNuno12