Topi Niemela, Karpat Liiga (Toronto Maple Leafs)
It is quite clear this season that Topi Niemela is not at the same offensive pace as his prior season in the Finnish Liiga. Although this is not necessarily a worry for the Leafs' organization, Niemela has shown the ability to be defensively sound while playing a top role on his team.
The Finnish Liiga is noted as a defensive-minded league with frequent low-scoring games. For example, Niemela's team, Karpat, sits fifth in the league, despite having only scored an average of two goals per game. So far this season, Niemela has recorded four goals and three assists in 25 games.
Last season, Niemela broke out offensively during the first half of the season before drying out near the end of the season. The Finnish native led his team in points with 10 goals and 22 assists.
The Leafs' prospect will likely make his way to North America after the conclusion of his Finnish Liiga season. Although it is evident that Niemela is not as offensively dynamic this season, he is still a force to be reckoned with.
Samu Tuomaala, Jukurit Liiga (Philadelphia Flyers)
Samu Tuomaala was among the newest wave of Finnish stars drafted during the 2021 Draft. The once-promised first-round talent slipped to the 46th overall selection when the Flyers topped him with their first pick of the draft.
Ever since his draft year, Tuomaala has yet to show improvement playing both in the junior and professional leagues in Finland. For instance, last season Tuomaala split time with two Liiga teams, each playing in 21 games and recording only two points.
This was especially disappointing as Tuomaala's entire game revolves around his knack for creating offense. Prior to his draft, analysts noted the Finnish winger as a pure sniper who has a shoot-first mentality and was tearing up the lower-level junior leagues.
This season, in particular, it was clear that the winger was not performing at a professional level.Tuomaala played seven games for his Jukurit team before he was demoted to the Mestis, the second-tier Finnish league.
Tuomaala has so far found success playing in the second-tier league, with seven points in five games. Although it is clear to Flyers fans that the highly touted forward is on a slower development path.
John Beecher, Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)
Yes. John Beecher is a former first-round pick of the Boston Bruins, when team GM Don Sweeney selected the forward during the 2018 NHL Draft (30th overall). Beecher isn't a player that will score a ridiculous amount of points, but he is a hard-working, physical player.
Beecher's junior career was full of mixed emotions. From expecting an offer from the University of Michigan to riding the pine in his final season The New York native played in a total of 81 games with the Wolverines, tallying just 19 goals and 20 assists throughout three seasons.
Last season, we saw Beecher take the next step in his development as he adapted to the pro game with the Providence Bruins in the AHL. The left-handed forward suited up for nine games, recording three goals and two assists. During his brief stint at the pro level, Beecher looked comfortable and physically prepared.
The start to the 2022–23 season has been a little rocky for the power forward. Beecher started the season cold before having a hot stretch of points in the AHL. The Bruins' pick currently supports six points in 17 games.
Raphael Lavoie, Bakersfield Oilers (Edmonton Oilers)
It is now within a prospect's development phase when we question a player like Raphael Lavoie. Will this player be able to make an impact at the NHL level? So far this season, as a 22-year-old, the Oilers' pick has had a horrible start.
Lavoie, a once-highly regarded junior prospect, has yet to translate his offensive production to the pro level.The former second-round pick posted a career-best 26 points in 56 games last season in the AHL.
The Oilers' prospect has seen a regression in play this season, despite playing at the same level. Lavoie has just three points in nine games this season. Edmonton simply needs more in Lavoie, as he sits on the brink as a prospect.