Canucks prospect Toni Utunen is off to a great start for Team Finland at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.
Vancouver’s 130th overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft scored twice and added an assist as Finland beat Canada 8-3 on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old blueliner scored the overtime winner that eliminated Canucks’ goalie prospect Mikey DiPietro and Team Canada in the World Junior quarterfinals last season. Utunen is basically a lock to make the squad once again this time around.
Utunen is mainly known for his defensive play and has played with Tappara (Liiga) in a professional men’s league over the last two seasons. He’s been limited to just three points in 54 games with Tappara, but his offense has shined at times in international play. He’s expected to take on a bigger role with his Finnish club in 2019-20.
Utunen opened the scoring Wednesday with a nice shot from the point. He took a look at his options before deciding to fire the puck on net. The well-placed shot beat screened Canadian netminder Colten Ellis.
On his second goal, Utunen showcased his lethal wrist shot as he moved into the slot and beat Canadian netminder Alexis Gravel five-hole.
Despite being a fifth-round pick, there’s plenty to like about Toni Utunen. He was previously captain of Finland’s U18 team and has good leadership qualities to go with an intelligent, two-way game.
Utenen isn’t signed by the Canucks yet, but the team holds his right through 2022. If he has a strong season with Tappara, the Finnish defensive prospect could make his AHL debut for the Comets as early as the 2020-21 season.
Utunen doesn’t put up a ton of offense, but after scoring that overtime winner to eliminate Canada last winter and adding two more goals today, he’s beginning to develop a reputation as a Canadian-killer.