Canucks Prime 10 Prospects: Toni Utunen a case for the defence


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He has not scored at that fee since. There’s a giant caveat there, although: Utunen saved shifting up the age brackets, at all times taking part in with the older youngsters. At age 15, he skated for Tappara’s Beneath-18 crew.

Aged 16, he was on Tappara’s high junior squad. A few of his teammates had been set to show 20. The subsequent yr he turned skilled, skating 11 instances for the senior Tappara squad within the Liiga (Finland’s elite league) and likewise being loaned out to LeKi within the second-tier Mestis league for 28 video games.

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Utunen confirmed sufficient to attract the eyes of the Canucks. He’s by no means scored like he did when he first hit his teenagers, nevertheless it’s clear the expertise that drove him in the direction of the online in these days has helped him refine his defensive sport.

In case you’re not going to attain in opposition to older gamers, you’re going to must be excellent at stopping them should you’re going to stay round.

Particularly should you’re not the largest man. Like so many fashionable defencemen, it’s not dimension that drives Utunen’s sport — he’s listed at five-foot-11 — it’s his skating that makes all of it work.

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On the 2019 World Juniors, he performed on Finland’s first defensive pairing, alongside Henri Jokiharju, serving to lead the Finns to gold. (The flashy Jokiharju simply completed up his second NHL season.)

That very same season, Utunen turned an everyday within the Tappara lineup, even when he didn’t play an entire lot.

On the 2020 World Juniors, he wore an ‘A’ for the Finnish world junior squad however as soon as once more struggled to get a lot ice time for Tappara. In truth, his taking part in time diminished after he returned from the worlds — mockingly the defenceman Tappara picked up mid-season and who pushed Utunen right down to eighth on the depth chart was former Canucks defenceman Adam Polasek.

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