Don’t expect to see 20-year-old Philadelphia Flyers prospect Samu Tuomaala at the Wells Fargo Center next season. Maybe not in 2024-25, either.
But Tuomaala, a 2021 second-round pick (46th overall) from Finland, will go into training camp coming off a strong Development Camp in July. He drew praise from fellow players, coaches and staff members. He showed enough to make the Flyers think he could play and thrive in Lehigh Valley next season. He has an excellent opportunity to make a statement and help a rebuilding team.
“My plan is coming to North America and getting ice time here,” said Tuomaala, who plays right wing and is 5-foot-10, 176 pounds.
He primarily played in the Mestis league last season, Finland’s second-highest league. He scored 46 points in 29 games for Kettera Imatra — 26 goals and 20 assists. He also scored 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) in 17 playoff games.
He played two games for the Phantoms in the 2021-22 season.
Tuomaala did not make Finland’s World Juniors team last year after playing for Team Finland in 2021 at the World Under-18 championships. In the U-18s, he was the tournament’s fifth-leading scorer behind Matvei Michkov (first) and Connor Bedard (third). He played for Finland in the U-20s the past two seasons.
“I enjoyed Samu. He had a couple of games with us [Phantoms] before he got kinda bounced around over in Europe,” Flyers director of player development Riley Armstrong said.
“A young kid. I think he has a really nice future in front of him. He can skate like the wind. He can fire a puck.
“He’s got legs on him like Sidney Crosby. They are massive legs. He has a really wide base.
“He’s 20 years old, still young, still a lot ahead of him here. It’s going to be awesome to hopefully get him back on this side of the pond and getting him playing hockey in North America again.”
Preparing for Season
Tuomaala has spent time learning English and getting stronger. In his two-game stint with the Phantoms, he was the only player who spoke Finnish.
“On the ice, everything,” Tuomaala said about what he’s doing to prepare for next season. “Getting stronger on the ice and my skating. My whole body I have tried to get stronger.”
Second-round picks have expectations. Being drafted that high is a lofty investment for an NHL team.
“He feels like he has a better patience in the games,” said former Flyers forward Sami Kapanen, who is Philadelphia’s European player development and pro scout. Kapanen translated what Tuomaala told him in Finnish.
“He’s not, every shift, expecting to score goals or having the offense. He understands it better now, reading the game, when to go for offense.
“I think the overall game, the defensive part of the game, has gotten better. He’s valuing it more, the little details, that are going to helping a team win, so it’s not all about offense anymore.”
Kapanen, a fellow Finn, played five seasons with the Flyers (2003-08). He played 311 games and scored 44 goals and 66 assists (110 points). He played 12 NHL seasons.
Before his new role with the Flyers, Kapanen was an owner of the KalPa team in the Finnish League. He also has been a player, assistant coach, head coach and general manager with KapPa.
When Tuomaala spoke at Development Camp, Kapanen sat right next to him at the podium.
In Tuomaala’s draft year of 2021, Elite Prospects said about him: “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.”
And if all goes to plan, the Phantoms and rest of the AHL can expect to see Tuomaala this season.