We are less than two weeks away from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (July 23-24), so it’s time to start researching the prospects likely to be selected in the first round. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently hold three picks in that round: #5, #24, and #31.
Position: Right Wing
Team: Kärpät U-20/Kärpät (Liiga)
Date of Birth: January 8, 2003
Birthplace: Oulu, Finland
Height: 5’ 10”
Ranked #31 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #46 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #33 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #28 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #37 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #36 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #20 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #10 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)
Ranked #17 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #30 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #25 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #34 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #31 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #25 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
Games Played: 30
Samu Tuomaala spent the majority of the past season playing for Kärpät’s U-20 team, where he was a point-per-game player. He got his first experience of playing against men with a five game stint at the Liiga level, and while he failed to appear on the scoresheet, he was able to hold his own. Tuomaala really turned heads at the IIHF U18 World Championship, where he led Finland in scoring with 11 points (5G, 6A) in 7 games.
A deadly accurate sniper with a laser for a shot, Tuomaala can break open a game. Most scouts consider his skating to be above-average and he is great at using his speed to create offense in transition and off the rush.
Tuomaala will likely spend a few more years in Finland playing for Kärpät and refining his game before coming to North America. Most scouting reports are consistent in identifying the areas of his game in need of improvement: decision making, stick handling, and a willingness to go to the dirty areas of the ice.
He will most likely still be on the board for both of the Jackets’ late first round picks, and is worth a look depending on who is selected #5 overall.
Tuomaala didn’t have a great club season with Karpat’s junior team, but his excellent U18 worlds was a reminder of how good he looked as an underager. Tuomaala is an excellent skater and his shifts have a lot of energy to them because of how quickly he can transition pucks and dart around the offensive zone. He has very good skill and can make plays, but his offense comes through his shot and how he can score from range. For an undersized forward he stays on the perimeter too much, though, and isn’t hard to play against. In a sentence, Tuomaala projects as a second-line winger who can be on an NHL power-play unit but may also frustrate a coach. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic
Tuomaala got to where he is off the back of one of the better shots in the Finnish system right now, finishing second in goals for Karpat’s U20 team, only beaten by fellow draftee Ville Koivunen who will likely be drafted not too far after Tuomaala. The reason why Tuomaala might be picked before Koivunen is a simple to understand concept; Tuomaala is a goalscorer’s goalscorer. One of the better shooters of this draft, Tuomaala is not afraid to try and create chances all over the ice, and with his strong hands and freakishly accurate shot, he was an absolute terror in Finnish junior this year; willing to attack the net and be a body-mover in order to create primo scoring chances. - SkyonAir, Stanley Cup of Chowder
“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
He reloads to swing wide on his team’s breakout, collects the puck in stride, accelerates through knee-over-knee crossovers, and drives play across the offensive blue line. Blink, and you just might miss him. Tuomaala has a wicked wrist shot, and he can get it off in-stride from either foot. -EliteProspects 2021 NHL Draft Guide