At the 2022 IIHF World Juniors, New York Islanders fans had their eyes on two promising prospects in Finnish center Aatu Räty and right winger William Dufour. But there was another New York Islanders prospect on Finland in forward Eetu Liukas, who had himself a strong tournament.
READ MORE AT NYIHN: Romanov to Wear No. 28, Past Islanders to Don It
At first glance, Eetu Liukas plays a fourth-line grinding style. The New York Islanders drafted the 6’2, 200 lb left winger in the fifth round (157th) of the 2021 NHL Draft. Since 2016, Liukas has been a member of the TPS organization, playing U 16, U 18, and U 20, and has had three different stints with their Liiga team.
Eetu Liukas was getting ready for this game when the Islanders picked him 157th overall… think I should yell down and let him know? pic.twitter.com/6pT2XApVHc
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) July 24, 2021
This past season, his age 19 campaign, Liukas notched 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 games for TPS U 20 and had eight goals and four assists in 48 regular season games with TPS in Liiga.
TPS went to the Liiga Finals, as Liukas notched four goals in 17 postseason games.
Eetu Liukas iskee TPS:lle illan kuudennen osuman ajassa 50:47!
Syöttäjät Mitch Hults ja Aarne Intonen.
— Liiga (@smliiga) April 10, 2022
At the 2022 IIHF World Juniors, Liukas had two assists in six games, helping Finland to a Silver medal. The tournament did not keep track of hits, but Liukas delivered his fair share.
Eetu Liukas out there doing Eetu Liukas things.
— Michel Anderson (@TLOMitch) August 11, 2022
“Oh, he was great. I loved him because it was the same player I’ve seen during the season.” Honkamaa said. She also shared what former NHLer, now analyst and player agent Sami Kapanen had to say about Liukas.
“He also said that Eetu Liukas is one of the best players in his role at his age. And that says a lot.”
Honkamaa shared that Liukas reminds her of New York Islanders forwards Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck, with Liukas having the potential to be that next type of player for New York, when he gets his chance.
“He always plays a physical game in Liiga. And he also showed his physical side at that tournament,” Honkamaa shared. “I basically asked him, ‘Did you do you have to change anything your game to be here or do you just like, do the same thing as in Liiga?’ He said yeah, I don’t need to change much.”
“But he also said he doesn’t seek for those moments of physicality. They just come naturally.”
Besides the physicality, Liukas does have a good shot despite not scoring at the World Juniors.
“He does also have the upside of actually scoring goals. He does have a good shot…he scored four goals in the [Liiga] playoffs,” Honkamaa said. “And he did have some chances are the World Juniors as well, but most of them hit the post.”
Liukas can hit, and he can shoot, but other things that Liukas does really well is forecheck as well as kill penalties. During the tournament, his two assists came off impeccable forechecking plays.
His first assist (secondary) of the tournament came in the final round-robin game of the tournament against Canada.
— Michel Anderson (@TLOMitch) August 15, 2022
His second assist (secondary) came in the Gold Medal game on Nashville Predators prospect Joakin Kemell’s goal, which tied the contest at 2 with around 10 minutes to play in the third period (1:36 minute mark):
In the Gold Medal Game against Canada, Liukas even drew a penalty while Finland was shorthanded as he used his legs to catch up to a loose puck forcing the Canadian defenseman to hook him.
— Raised in a barn…. (@Orangenblu72) August 21, 2022
Liukas is switching teams for the 2022-23 season as he leaves TPS to join HPK. Honkamaa chatted with his coach at TPS, Jussi Ahokas, about his gritty player at the tournament.
“He’s doing great. He’s playing true to his role,” Ahokas told Honkamaa. “Ahokas also expected him to have a couple of more goals.”
Liukas makes his HPK debut on Friday, as he will skate on the third line in a preseason contest.
Eetu Liukas is a couple of years away from the NHL but is eligible to come to North America in 2023-24 as he only signed a one-year deal with HPK. As much as fans want to see flashy, goal-scoring players, every Stanley Cup-winning team needs players like Liukas, and it sounds like he is a prospect that can help the New York Islanders in the near future.