Canes and Coffee’s “Midterms” series continues with the second of three stops in Finland. In case you missed it, Friday’s update featured Finnish forward Eetu Luostarinen. Here you can also find a menu with clickable links for all six of the “Midterms” articles completed thus far.
Today’s “Midterms” article checks 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 in 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. He is continuing his development with Jokerit’s U20 team again for the 2017-18 season.
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.
Interview on Eetu Makiniemi
Canes and Coffee: Can you please provide a short summary of Eetu Makiniemi’s 2017-18 season thus far playing for the Jokerit U20 team?
Marco Bombino: Makiniemi has been carrying a heavy workload as the clear-cut number one goalie for Jokerit U20 this season. He has been the starting goalie in 35 of 43 regular season games. Although Jokerit failed to make the Top 10 after the qualification games, I do not see this being Makiniemi’s fault as he didn’t get a whole lot of support from the defense in front of him. The team has allowed plenty of shots throughout the season. As evidence, Makiniemi made 40 or more saves in eight qualification games.
Canes and Coffee: As compared to watching Eetu Makiniemi play in 2016-17, in what areas do you see the most progress in terms of his development from year to year?
Marco Bombino: Makiniemi has improved his quickness from last year. Both his glove hand and lateral movements are quicker. His rebound control has also gotten better as he directs pucks more effectively out of danger, especially on low shots.
Canes and Coffee: As Makiniemi works to develop into an NHL caliber goalie, what areas of his game are his strengths and best project to being NHL level in the future?
Marco Bombino: He’s a very athletic goalie and thus capable of making highly acrobatic saves from time to time. He most often performs well in pressure situations. He has excellent reactions. He moves effectively post to post and his movements are fluid. He’s competitive, challenges shooters and shows determination and drive. I really like Makiniemi’s potential and while there’s plenty of work ahead for him to become an NHL goalie, he’s heading in the right direction.
Canes and Coffee: What areas of Eetu Makiniemi’s game still have room for improvement as he continues to develop?
Marco Bombino: One particular area where he has room for improvement is his ability to move and handle the puck. However, I think this may be a matter of confidence as he doesn’t seem to handle the puck a whole lot outside the crease.
Canes and Coffee: Off topic from Makiniemi, do you have any early guesses for Finnish forwards that the Hurricanes might be looking at for the second round of the 2018 NHL draft after selecting Sebastian Aho in 2015, Janne Kuokkanen in 2016 and Eetu Luostarinen in 2017? 🙂
Marco Bombino: Niklas Nordgren and Lenni Killinen are two forwards who I consider possible second round picks from Finnish leagues. Both are wingers with great offensive skills and instincts which could intrigue the Hurricanes. Nordgren is a very smart player with a high hockey IQ, similarly to Aho and Kuokkanen. Killinen is a big, fast player with a lot of offensive ability.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to Marco Bombino from FinnProspects for generously sharing his ‘from the rink’ insight on Hurricanes prospect Eetu Makiniemi.