Finland’s U18 Camp and Scrimmages Review

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2021-02-10

Photo courtesy of http://www.leijonat.fi/

 

By Eetu Siltanen

 

The best U18 players of Finland (excluded Liiga players) gathered to play two intrasquad games in Vierumäki at the start of February and it was really interesting. Both of the games needed overtime and the first one even went to a shootout. I wanted to share my thoughts on the camp’s players with our readers.

 

Best defenders of the camp in my books were Viljami Juusola (2021), Aleksi Heimosalmi (2021), Jimi Suomi (2021), Otto Salin (2022) and Kasper Kulonummi (2022).

 

Juusola (LDH) was already really good in U20 SM-sarja in autumn but didn’t really get the role he wanted in Kärpät so he left to Sweden. Now, he showed some good mobility, on-puck skills, and his specialty, precise passing game. He was easily the best defender in the 2nd game and the 2nd best in camp overall.

 

Aleksi Heimosalmi (RHD) is one of the most interesting prospects of this year’s Finnish class. He showed great on-puck skills along with excellent mobility and was also good defensively. He also possesses good passing skills. He played very well in both games, notching a total of three points. He was the best defender of the camp overall in my books.

 

 

Jimi Suomi (LHD) was supposed to leave for USHL this season, but due to Covid-19, he stayed in Finland to play for Jokerit U20. He’s been solid in U20 SM-sarja and played well in the camp. The undersized offensive defender showed great mobility and on-puck skills along with a good passing game but defending can be pretty hard for him because of his small size.

 

 

#4 and #5 defenders in my rankings were very promising 2022 draft-eligibles, Otto Salin and Kasper Kulonummi. They both are mobile right-shot defenders with good on-puck skills. Salin is the stronger of these two and he’s also great in powerplay as he possesses a great shot and handles the puck well.

 

We move onto forwards. The best in my books were Samu Tuomaala (2021), Niko Huuhtanen (2021), Miko Matikka (2022), Samu Salminen (2021) and Ville Koivunen (2021).

 

Samu Tuomaala was expected to be one of the best players of the camp and well, he was. He was the best forward of the camp in my books. He showed his excellent skating ability along with his deadly wrist shot, scoring 3 goals. He sometimes might be a bit selfish but that’s fine as long as he’s efficient.

 

 

Niko Huuhtanen might have been the biggest surprise of the camp. I recognized his talent but he has had consistency issues. He’s not an early-round pick, but this guy could be a steal in later rounds. His skating is the issue in his offensive toolset, but he showed his deadly wrist shot with four goals in the camp. He also flashed some skill and showed his passing vision a couple of times. Huuhtanen also is a very physical player and showed that in the camp. All in all, really strong showing to improve his draft stock.

 

 

Samu Salminen has peeped as a low first-rounder in some rankings but he isn’t quite there in mine. He is a smart center with a good frame and offensive toolset. Skating is the area that limits his game, but he showed some really smart plays and a nice amount of skill in the camp. He scored a nice wrist shot to win the second game in OT. He’s also a leader as he was the captain of Team Blue and he scored a game-winner in both games.

 

 

Ville Koivunen has been really impressive in terms of points in U20 SM-sarja and he was also strong in the camp. He showed his chance creation skills and was really active all the time. The first game wasn’t that good, but he was amazing in the second one with Tuomaala. He has a good offensive toolset but needs to improve his physicality and get more dynamic as he looks a bit angular.

 

The last but not least of the top-5 forwards is Miko Matikka. The 2022 draft-eligible was really strong in the camp as I ranked him 3rd in my camp ranking. He showed his great offensive toolset and made a dangerous partner with Samu Salminen. Matikka has a good frame and he is strong and has a powerful shot. He also is a solid skater and has pretty good puck skills, so his offensive toolset is good all-around.

 

Joonas Lohisalo (2021), Jeremi Tammela (2021) and Sami Päivärinta (2021) should be noted as honorable mentions as they were good in their own roles. Oliver Kapanen (2021) didn’t really live up to his expectations, but he also definitely wasn’t bad, and he was playing in the wing (he’s a center). Joakim Kemell (2022) flashed some skills and scored a beautiful end-to-end goal but wasn’t as good comprehensively as I was expecting.

 

Aku Koskenvuo (2021) was definitely the best goalie of the camp, followed by Paavo Kohonen (2021). Koskenvuo looked the most confident and had some really good saves. Jani Lampinen and Juuso Helomaa didn’t play very well in the first game, both allowing six goals.

 

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You can watch both games on YouTube: Game 1       Game 2

Follow Eetu on Twitter @siltaneneetu

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