For those checking in on the prospects ‘Back to School’ series intermittently, you can bookmark the menu page with clickable links for all of the completed articles thus far.
Today’s entry in the ‘Back to School’ series jumps back to Europe to check in on Finnish goalie Eetu Makiniemi.
Continuing Ron Francis’ trend of adding at least one goalie in each draft, Eetu Niemi was the Hurricanes’ selection if the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Draft. Makiniemi hails from Finland where he played on Jokerit’s U20 team in 2016-17 and finished the season with a 2.68 goals against average and .908 save percentage.
Interview with Carolina Hurricanes Robert Kron, Head European Scout for the Carolina Hurricanes
About the interviewee
Robert Kron is the Head European Scout for the Carolina Hurricanes. Robert’s Hurricanes history dates back to the 1997-98 season when he was part of the inaugural Hurricanes team. In addition to three years with the Carolina Hurricanes, Robert’s NHL career spanned 12 seasons including three with the Carolina Hurricanes. In 771 games in the NHL, he scored 144 goals and collected 338 points.
Interview on Hurricanes prospect Eetu Makiniemi
Canes and Coffee: What stood out to you and the Hurricanes scouting team about Eetu Makiniemi that had him ranked above other goalie prospects still available in the fifth round?
Robert Kron: I would say Eetu showed strong fundamentals and tremendous upside playing for his team in Finnish Junior A. he has good size and is very athletic. Also his attitude is great, and he works very hard to become an elite goaltender.
Canes and Coffee: What are Eetu Makiniemi’s strengths as a young goaltender? In what areas must he improve to make the NHL in the future?
Robert Kron: As mentioned he has great athleticism, strong fundamentals and great will to become better. He needs to get physically stronger, and with young goalies they need to work on all areas of their game.
Canes and Coffee: In terms of style, how would you describe Eetu Makiniemi, and are there any current or former NHL goalies whom he reminds you of?
Robert Kron: Eeetu plays a mix of a butterfly and stand up goalie. He reads the game very well, and his second effort is excellent. There is not a one particular goalie that comes to mind, but he comes from the Finnish system that generates very good goaltenders that made positive impact in NHL. They all have some similarities but also their own identity.
Interview with Marco Bombino from FinnProspects
About the interviewee
Marco Bombino (Twitter=@marco_bombino) is a Finnish prospect analyst for McKeen’s Hockey and FinnProspects. He also has his own website finnishjuniorhockey.com that provides information on Finnish prospects playing in juniors and at the pro level. He has previously worked for Future Considerations, Over The Boards and Dobber Prospects.
Canes and Coffee: How would you describe Eetu Makiniemi’s 2016-17 season?
Marco Bombino: Makiniemi had a solid season. He won 13 of his 26 games with Jokerit U20 and made improvements from the past season in the U18 league, especially in terms of consistency. Back then he had a lot of ups and downs, although you could already see the talent because of his athletic ability. I think he was also able to bring his best game on a more consistent basis last season.
Canes and Coffee: Eetu Makiniemi seemed to come from off of the charts in terms of prospect rankings. From your view of him, what about his accomplishments and abilities might have caught the eye of the Hurricanes scouting team?
Marco Bombino: I think one accomplishment is that he was able to play a good amount of games and perform at a more consistent level in the U20 league. The way he has improved his game in the last year or so is impressive. I believe the Hurricanes’ scouting staff thinks that there’s still a lot of room for him to get even better and take his game to the next level.
Canes and Coffee: Can you briefly describe Makiniemi’s style of play? Are there any NHL netminders that Makiniemi reminds you of in terms of style of play?
Marco Bombino: He likes to aggressively challenge shooters and come out of his crease to make saves. In many situations, he relies a lot on his reactions and quickness. He is quick to get up after going down on the ice. Makiniemi reminds me a bit of fellow Finn Tuukka Rask in terms of style of play and ability to make reactionary, athletic saves.
Canes and Coffee: What are Makiniemi’s strengths at this early stage of his development? In what areas must Makiniemi improve to one day play in the NHL?
Marco Bombino: Makiniemi’s biggest strengths are his quickness and reactions. He has really good footwork, moving quickly laterally and effectively post-to-post. Because of his great reactions, he can make some big saves in key moments and keep his team in games. He can be very difficult to beat even from the slot. However, going forward he needs to particularly work on his net coverage and puck handling skills.
Canes and Coffee: Is there anything else about Eetu Makiniemi that might be of interest to Carolina Hurricanes fans?
Marco Bombino: He was named the best goalie at the Huippu-Pohjola camp in 2014. The camp was held for the best 1999 born Finnish prospects and featured several other NHL draft picks as well – for example this year’s first round picks Miro Heiskanen, Urho Vaakanainen, Kristian Vesalainen and Eeli Tolvanen.
For additional reading on Eetu Makiniemi, please check out Canes and Coffee’s ‘reading list’ of external articles compiled after the Hurricanes selected Makiniemi at the 2017 NHL Draft.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to Robert Kron from the Carolina Hurricanes and Marco Bombino from FinnProspects for generously sharing their insight on Hurricanes prospect Eetu Makiniemi!