Prospect Report: Mikael Pyyhtia
Updated: Apr 19, 2020
Mikael Pyyhtiä (PIE-AYE-SHA) is yet another promising young Finnish prospect. Pyyhtiä currently stands 5’11 and weighs 174 pounds. Pyyhtiä’s 36 points in 34 games currently sits 6th in the Jr A SM-Liiga in scoring. He’s 3rd in scoring amongst draft eligibles, and his 26 assists rank 3rd in the league. He’s one of the smartest players in this draft, and he sees the ice like a chess board.
Pyyhtiä is like a magician in the offensive zone, and can find his teammates effortlessly. Pyyhtiä consistently creates high danger chances with his playmaking skills, and has racked up all those assists doing just that. When he doesn’t have the puck, Pyyhtiä is a hound on it. He’s a strong forechecker and can knock passes down with his hand-eye coordination. He’s got some very slick hands, and they work just as fast as his brain. What makes Pyyhtiä special, along with his physical tools, is his decision making. He always seems to be able to make the smartest play possible. Here’s one of his primary assists from this season:
The majority of other players would have shot the puck when it bounced to Pyyhtiä like that. The goalie was moving, the defense wasn’t set, and he had complete control. Instead, Pyyhtiä waits until the goalie gets across, then wires a backdoor pass for an even better shot. Pyyhtiä has a habit of making these (at first) head-scratching plays.
Here, Pyyhtiä corrals the puck and turns to directly face the goalie. He’s already got the inside lane on the defenseman, and the right play is to shoot. Nope. Pyyhtiä sends a no look pass over to a wide open teammate who gets the whole net to aim at. While Pyyhtiä’s edges are certainly above average, his speed is just OK. His stride is smooth and he gets the occasional breakaway but I think he can build up another gear over time. Pyyhtiä is most effective on the power play, and he can be depended on to run the whole thing. That’s where he loves to play, and create chances.
Pyyhtiä works the defender a couple times until enough space opens up for his teammate to wrap the puck in. To be clear, Pyyhtiä passes up way too many shots. It’s not that big of an issue though, because he happens to be a top notch finisher. Pyyhtiä loves to get the puck down low around the net and make moves around the goalie. He consistently looks for deflections and backdoor tap ins on the rush. And his one-touch shot is absolutely sick.
Pyyhtiä kicks the puck to himself, then cuts back creating tons of space. He lays the puck off to Eetu Liukas (2021) and starts crashing the net. Liukas puts a perfect pass on his stick and Pyyhtiä outplays the goalie.
Pyyhtiä glides in undetected, and beats the goalie with little effort. He likes to keep the game somewhat slow and simple. His patience as a playmaker definitely trickles over into his shooting skills. Pyyhtiä will wait until he has the upper hand before he shoots. He’ll hold onto the puck for an extra second or two sometimes before letting it fly.
Here, Pyyhtiä creates some space, changes the angle, and gives himself some extra power with more of a turning motion on his shot. Now about his one-touch shot, it’s super good. Like, send a puck top shelf in a split second on his off side good:
The amount of power he got on that shot is ridiculous. As is this next one:
Pyyhtiä steals the puck, turns to face the net, has a teammate bump into him, and snaps a shot top shelf. The release is just so quick, and so accurate.
I think this shift shows off the most consistent and positive aspects of Pyyhtiä. He drives the net hard looking for a redirect, and keeps circling the zone and tracking the puck. Eventually he ends up in the right place at the right time, and buries the puck. Pyyhtiä should be gone by the end of the 4th round in this upcoming draft.