Towering defender whose development hasn’t gone as planned and is struggling to make an impact offensively.
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October 2020 – On April 30th, the Oilers opted to resign the young Finnish defender to a two-year entry-level contract. Niemeläinen’s development definitely has not gone according to plan and has not shown a whole lot of development to his overall game since being drafted in 2016. He has played two games for Ässät this season and has recorded 25 penalty minutes. He has an intriguing combination of size and mobility but at this point, it is hard to predict that he will play in the NHL in the future. Jameson Ewasiuk
March 2020 – It has now been four seasons since Edmonton drafted Niemeläinen in the third round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and this is his third season being back in Finland. Overall, the big Finnish defender’s play appears to be about the same as it has been the past couple of seasons. This season he has recorded six points in 52 games compared to the five points in 50 games from last year. The biggest difference in his third season in Liiga (his first with Ässät) is that he is leading his team in minutes played at just under 20 compared to the just under 14 minutes a game he played with HPK the past two years. Now with that being said, his play has not progressed as much as his time on the ice would suggest. Niemeläinen’s shot differentials are still quite similar to years past and below the team average similar to the amount of the past two seasons. The big Finn possesses good mobility for his size and a solid defensive game but he has not shown a lot of progression in any one area and has not developed much offense either. At this point, it is hard to say whether or not Edmonton will sign