At 203rd overall, the New Jersey Devils selected Karpat U-20 left winger Eetu Pakkila. Unless the Devils trade back into the seventh round - which is unlikely - he is the sixth and final pick of the team’s draft class for 2018. Let’s learn more about Eetu Pakkila.
Who is Eetu Pakkila?
According to Elite Prospects, Eetu Pakkila is from Oulu, Finland and was born on October 3, 1999. That makes him one of the older first-time draft-eligible players in this year’s group of prospects. He is listed as a left winger with a left-handed shot who stands at 6’0” and 163 pounds. Pakkila has come up through the Karpat system.
He spent this last season primarily with their U-20 team in the Junior A SM-Liiga. After 18 games spent with them in 2016-17, Pakkila improved his production dramatically with more appearances. Pakkila played in 48 games and scored 23 goals and 17 assists. His 40 points were good enough to be tied for second on the team in points and tied for 25th in the league in points. Pakkila also featured in the playoffs as the Karpat U-20 team went all the way to the finals, only to lose to KalPa. In eleven playoff games, Pakkila put up three goals and five assists - tied for tenth in playoff scoring among the entire postseason. Needless to say, he was a big deal there; Pakilla was even player of the month of October in the Junior A SM-Liiga. He also received one appearance with Karpat’s top team in the Liiga. EP also states that he played in four games with the Finnish national U-20 team but he did not represent the team in any tournaments.
The EP profile does not list him under any contract other than that it is a junior deal. I do not know what the future necessarily holds for him. I would guess that he would be trying to move up to Karpat’s senior team, pending any contract. We’ll see.
What Others Say About Eetu Pakkila
Finn Prospects focuses on, you guessed it, Finnish prospects. They also do not hold much back. In their final rankings of Finnish prospects for this year’s draft, they dropped Pakkila down a spot to 14th. The ranking came with this quote from Asko Huuki:
Päkkilä will probably never become a star player in the pro game, but he should eventually become pretty good player nevertheless thanks to his great skating and pretty good hands. He has pretty good work ethic, but his overall game still needs some improving. He also needs to fill up his frame.
I appreciate Huuki’s candor. I do not think anyone would expect any seventh round pick to be a star, so I’m not too thrown by that. That he notes his skating and hands as positive traits suggests he further fits the type of player that the Devils have been drafting for years under Shero and Castron now. I can definitely agree that he needs to put on some weight because 163 pounds is pretty slight.
Finn Prospects also has have three game reports about Pakkila, two by Huuki and one by Juha Koljonen. Across all three, his skating is listed a plus. He’s quick and can accelerate well. He also has an offensive mindset to his game. However, negatives included his slightness, that he needs to develop more offensive skills, and his play away from the puck. Koljonen’s game report and Huuki’s second game report in particular highlight deficiencies in his defensive game. How much they can develop is a question, but Huuki does not think the upside is that large. While it all may be things to work on, I get the sense that there is a lot to work on. That would explain, in part, why he was available at 203rd overall.
My Initial Reaction of the Pick
I am OK with this kind of selection. Again, this late in the draft, taking a flyer on someone who has done well in their respective situation is a good idea as any. That his skating seems to be an asset on top of having some skill fits in the mold of the player the Devils have been acquiring over the last three years or so. I am concerned about the negatives. They may be workable but only to a point. I’m curious as to where he will end up next season. I expect him to move on to Karpat’s top team; but unless I’m mistaken, that may mean a new contract. That would determine if and when he could come to America. I get the sense that some time would be needed regardless before any jump would be made. We shall see.
As we update this post with more information later today, please have your say about Eetu Pakkila in the comments. Do you think the Devils’ final pick of the day was a good pick or not and why? What do you expect this player will become for the Devils? Of course, don’t forget to vote in our quick poll on the selection, which will end tonight at right before midnight. Thank you for reading.
The Devils drafted Eetu Pakkila at 203rd Overall! What do you think of the pick?
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I love it!
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I don’t know / I’m in the middle.
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