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Penguins Interested in Finnish UFA Defenseman



Pittsburgh Penguins prospects, Valtteri Pulli

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a recent history of welcoming Finnish hockey prospects. From Juuso Riikola to Valtteri Puustinen, players from Finland have filled the Penguins’ prospects pool. There could another, as Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported the Penguins are one of seven teams interested in a big defenseman who was undrafted.

Valtteri Pulli, 21, playing for TPS, will be a free agent next month. The 6-foot-6, 212-pound blue liner has 14 points (3-11-14) in 47 games in the SM-liiga (Finnish Elite League). He cannot sign with an NHL team until after the Finnish season concludes, which will be in mid-March.

The Penguins are down to two Finnish prospects. Signed in 2018, Riikola returned to Finnish hockey last year. 2020 second-round pick Joel Blomqvist, Puustinen, and college free-agent goalie Filip Lindberg remain.

Editor’s note: The original version of the story incorrectly noted the former Penguins prospect Calle Clang was a Finnish goalie.

According to Marek, seven teams are watching Pulli, though he’s not sure who is hot on the trail and who is casually watching.

“I’ve heard of a couple of different teams that have been really hot on him and others just kicking tires,” Marek said. “I’m trying to figure out who is really aggressive and (who is curious). But it sounds like the teams that have interest — and again to varying degrees — are the San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, and NY Islanders.”

Marek called the defenseman a late bloomer. He’s playing in an international tournament this weekend, which has brought plenty of scouts.

“…Kind of been turning heads all season long,” said Marek. “He’s playing this weekend at the BHG tournament, formerly the Swedish games … now a number of teams have shown interest but at varying degrees.”

Two years ago, reports listed him at 6-foot-4 and 183 pounds but have grown since NHL teams passed. Scouting reports show a smooth skater with some puck skills and strength on the wall, but not a flashy d-man.

Valtteri Pulli: