By RYAN MCCRACKEN on July 2, 2020.
The Medicine Hat Tigers selected 2002-born Finn Oskari Kuntonen with the 51st overall pick in Tuesday’s Canadian Hockey League import draft.
Tigers director of player personnel Bobby Fox says he spoke to various sources regarding Kuntonen’s skill and potential, and the common thread was an unwavering work ethic.
“We talked to his agent, we talked to the skills coach over in Finland and they all speak very highly of this kid,” said Fox. “The one thing about him, from all the feedback we got, he works extremely hard. He wants to be a player and those are the type of guys that we like in the Hat.”
The 6-foot-1, 181-pound left-shot forward joins the Tigers’ system after producing 16 goals and 30 assists over 39 games with the U18 SM-Sarja’s Lahti Pelicans last season. Kuntonen also put in two games with the Pelicans’ under-20 squad this year.
“He’s an offensive forward, good size, very high IQ,” said Fox. “He’s a very smart player, he sees the ice very well, he’s creative offensively. We’re excited to see what he can bring.”
The Tigers have protected both last season’s import players – goaltender Mads SÃ¸gaard and forward Jonathan Brinkman – but were granted one selection in the draft due to SÃ¸gaard entering his overage season.
Teams can only host two import players on their roster in a season, however Fox says Kuntonen has spoken with Tigers head coach and general manager Willie Desjardins and is excited about the chance to play major junior hockey in Canada.
“He’s committed to coming,” said Fox. “He wants to play in Canada.”
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