Almost everyone on the Grand Rapids Griffins roster has something to prove this season. If a player is not a young prospect trying to show he deserves a chance to play in the NHL, then he is an older player trying to earn a second chance in the NHL. Antti Tuomisto, 22, falls in the first category.
He was drafted 35th overall in 2019. But perhaps he has a special distinction because the Red Wings are looking forward to having a better read on Tuomisto’s potential. The 6-foot-5 Finn seemed like an ordinary prospect when he was playing college hockey at Denver in 2021-22. But the Red Wings were impressed with Tuomisto’s progress playing last season in Finland’s top pro league. Now, Tuomisto is a true curiosity.
His sole purpose of returning to Finland was to improve his NHL potential.
“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Tuomisto said. “Get a bigger role maybe than I had in Denver and also play with older guys, a little bigger guys in Finland.”
As a college player, Tuomisto looked as if he was becoming a defense-first prospect. But he demonstrated more offensive potential for TPS Turku, totaling five goals and 20 points. The Red Wings like his first-pass ability.
He received power play time in Finland.
“I got more ice time,” Tuomisto said. “That really helped me getting those reps. I want to use my shot. That’s something I worked on a lot with Sammy Salo, our D coach in Finland and Niklas Kronwall, we worked a lot on that. I think I got a lot better in that last season.”
Where Does Tuomisto Fit?
This season, the Red Wings will sort out where Tuomisto fits among the prospects. The Red Wings seem to have already established that Simon Edvinsson, Albert Johansson and William Wallinder are their top three defensive prospects. Although younger, 2023 first rounder Axel Sandin Pellikka, might be right after them. Does Tuomisto fit right after this group?
Tuomisto said leaving Denver was a hard decision. He reached the decision. It was not the Red Wings’ idea.
“I thought about it for a long time, for months, what’s the right decision for my future,” Tuomisto said. “But I think I made a good choice.”
It made sense because Tuomisto was playing against older, more experienced players.
“There’s a lot of skating in Finland, too. Bigger sheet,” Tuomisto said. “Also puck battles and stuff like that, with bigger guys, it’s harder. That helped me a lot.”
His skating improved this past season.
“Skating is a big thing for me as a big guy, got to be able to skate,” Tuomisto said. “And also if I want to defend good I got to be good in the battles, harder.”
He feels comfortable with the idea of playing in the American Hockey League
“After playing two years in college it’s not going to be a completely new thing for me playing in North America,” Tuomisto said. “It’s going to be higher than college, so I have to see what that’s going to be like.”