The sniper from Finland gives the Flyers an elite shooter in the system.
No. 14: Samu Tuomaala
2020-21 League/Team(s): Karpat U20/Karpat, U20 SM-Sarja/Liiga
2020-21 Statistics: 15 G, 16 A, 31 P in 35 G
Acquired In: 2020 NHL Entry Draft, 46th overall
Ranking in Spring 2020 25 Under 25: N/A
How did Tuomaala’s 2020-21 hockey season go? Is his stock trending up or down from where it was entering the year?
Tuomaala spent the season doing what he does best — filling up the scoresheet, with 15 goals in 30 games with the under 20 team in Karpat. Against lower competition he showed his offensive upside, using his shot to torment goalies and his speed to leave defenders in their wake.
It was a different — and expected — story against better competition as he went scoreless in five games with Karpat’s big club. But even with the scoreless effort against the big boys, Tuomaala did what was expected of him by tearing up the under 20 league in his age-18 season.
Samu Tuomaala had a good draft year, putting up 46 points in 47 regular season and playoff games across the Liiga, U20 SM-sarja and WJC-18! pic.twitter.com/C0U7KLPWV8
— InStat Hockey (@InStatHockey) June 28, 2021
Going into the season pundits had him pegged towards the end of the first round and into the early second, which is where he went at 46th overall to the Flyers. Nothing he did in 2020-21 suggests that he’s trending anywhere but up, and another look at him against better competition this coming season should give the Flyers a better idea of where he’s at development wise right now.
What are we expecting from Tuomaala this season? What should we be looking for from him?
The Finnish national will be on loan to Karpat in Liiga to start the 2021-22 season, and give him a chance to piggyback on his cup of coffee with the big club last season.
Given that Tuomaala doesn’t even turn 19 until January, expectations with him in Finland’s best league have to be kept in check but there are certainly aspects of his game that are close to impact ready. For one, his shot is just wicked, and he’s crafty with creating angles for an already deadly release to make matters even worse for netminders.
But while his shot and speed excite, there’s plenty to work on in terms of his 200-foot game. As expected with flashy young scorers, Tuomaala isn’t the most willing or effective defender at wing — and hasn’t seen a chance to fly the zone that he hasn’t liked. He also tends to float a little bit and force his shot too often, but it’s a good shot so it’s not like he’s lobbing bouncers from the point every chance he gets.
Overall we’d like to see him prove his offensive ability against the better competition and add to his all-around game to make him less of a liability when he isn’t engaged offensively and scoring the puck.
How does Tuomaala fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? Where does he stand in the Flyers’ organizational depth?
The Flyers are surely high on Tuomaala given that they sent away their first-round pick in the Rasmus Ristolainen trade and then turned around and went with the high upside pick at No. 46 overall anyways. While the Flyers have some high-end offensive prospects in the system, you can count on one hand the types they have like Tuomaala — perhaps Tyson Foerster, Bobby Brink, and not much else.
In the system the Flyers have a slew of guys ready to contribute but fewer options in terms of the definitive impact variety that could come in and be more than a bottom-sixer. There’s plenty of guys like Connor Bunnaman and Tanner Laczynski, and fewer lottery tickets that can really move the needle if they pan out — and Tuomaala fits that mold.
What do we think Tuomaala’s ultimate NHL upside is, and how likely is it that he gets to something approaching that?
Tuomaala can remind of a shorter, faster, lite version of Patrik Laine — his shot and release are that good. He also does a lot of the things that make Laine so maddening on a seemingly nightly basis with issues with shot selection and periods of inactivity and inconsistency from shift-to-shift.
His strengths are too much to ignore and suggest the ability to be a top-six forward on the wing with that deadly shot. His skating ability is a big plus as well, giving him an avenue to create plays after separating from defenders with the puck.
It’s not hard to see an avenue down the near future where Tuomaala proves himself against top Finnish competition and lives up to his pre-draft hype.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 2, 2021
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) April 29, 2021
Work rate, skating ability, pucks skills:
What an amazing shift by Samu Tuomaala #24! Samu Tuomaala is an excellent skater, energy-type forward with great speed. He also has good hands and a dangerous shot.#2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/9awNvBERg7
— Marek Novotny (@MarekNovotny96) July 2, 2021
— liv (@oliviamcarter) April 28, 2021
Samu Salminen from Samu Tuomaala! The #2021NHLDraft eligible forwards hook up on the powerplay after some great, patient puck movement.
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) April 29, 2021