We’ve reached the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ part of the draft. With their fourth pick in the 2018 draft, the Canucks have selected flashy, offensive defenceman Toni Utunen from Tappara of the Finnish Elite League. Utunen captained Finland to a gold medal at last year’s U-18 World Juniors.
With the 130th selection – the #Canucks take Toni Utunen in the 5th round
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) June 23, 2018
VAN picks Toni Utunen. The captain of Finland's U18 team who had a solid season in pro and international play.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 23, 2018
Vancouver selects Toni Utunen. A highly intelligent defenseman whose hockey IQ stands out. Had a strong season at the second highest men's league in Finland, logged a lot of ice-time. #Canucks
— Finnish Jr Hockey (@FINjrhockey) June 23, 2018
We didn’t have Utunen ranked in our pre-draft top 100. Some other reports…
After the top five, I have Lenni Killinen and Toni Utunen who I like in the fourth and fifth round. Killinen is a very talented offensive winger with good size (6-2, 181) but consistency has been a big issue for him. And not just from one game to another but from one shift to another as well. If he can become more consistent, he has some serious upside. Killinen had a very good season in junior league where he scored 13 goals and 41 points in 38 games. But his consistency issues became very visible for the big audience at the U18 Worlds where he started on the second line and was demoted again and again until he didn’t see any ice time at all.
Utunen spent the entire season playing against men. He played 11 games in Liiga and was held pointless. But he also played 28 games in Mestis and scored 12 points there. Utunen is an average-sized (5-11, 172) puck-moving defenseman, and he’s also pretty decent defensively. He just doesn’t have any real high-end tools which limits his upside. Utunen captained the Finnish team to gold at the U18 Worlds, and he played big minutes in all situations for that team.
The Finn has a very well-rounded game, doing everything that is asked of him proficiently. Utunen is known as a two-way rearguard, making a strong first pass out of the zone and working well in transition. He doesn’t panic under pressure, always looking poised no matter the situation. At 5-foot-11, he isn’t the biggest defender but compensates for that by playing with an edge.