Flyers sign 2021 NHL draft pick Samu Tuomaala to entry-level contract

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Flyers sign their top 2021 pick, a Finnish winger with 'elite speed' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Samu Tuomaala, the headliner of the Flyers' 2021 draft class, signed his three-year entry-level contract on Saturday.

A 5-foot-10, 179-pound Finnish winger, Tuomaala was drafted by the Flyers in the second round at 46th overall last month. He was the Flyers' opening pick of the draft after the club traded its first-round spot in a package to acquire Rasmus Ristolainen.

The 18-year-old Tuomaala possesses game-changing speed and an affinity to scoring. He was the 10th-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting, just after touted Swedish winger Fabian Lysell, who was taken at 21st overall by the Bruins. Tuomaala was the 19th-ranked player in the draft by TSN's Craig Button.

"He was rated as a first-round talent," Flyers director of European scouting Joakim Grundberg said in July. "We were able to get him in the middle of the second round, so we’re really excited about that. To us, he has elite speed and high skill, very good shot, high offensive upside. There are things he’s got to work on like his overall game and obviously getting stronger. We’re really excited; we see a lot of upside there."

Tuomaala, who likes to model his game after David Pastrnak, scored 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) through 30 games last season for Karpat at the junior hockey level in Finland. He had a big 2021 U-18 IIHF World Junior Championship for Finland, putting up 11 points (five goals, six assists) in seven games.

"We kind of thought he would probably go at the end of the first or somewhere in the 20s and he fell," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said in July after the draft. "A real talented winger, great speed, real dynamic speed, he loves to shoot the puck and score goals. Talented kid. He's going to take a little time to get stronger and put on a little weight, but a talented kid that has real good offensive upside."

Tuomaala said he wants to improve his defensive game. In 2021-22, the Karpat product is expected to play in Liiga, Finland's top pro league. He saw five games in Liiga last season.

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