Eetu Sopanen

Hometown:

Kouvola Finland

Team:

Finland

Currently Playing In:

Europe

Birthday:

1996-04-24

Position:

D

Eligible for draft:

2014

Shoots:

Left

Drafted:

Height:

6-3

Acquired:

Eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft

Weight:

210 lbs.

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History

2010-11: Eetu Sopanen appeared in two Division 1 U18 games and was an assistant captain for the Pelicans U16 team in Lahti, Finland. He had two assists for Pelicans U18 team and in 33 regular season U18 games he scored 6 goals with 9 assists and had 18 penalty minutes.

2011-12: Sopanen skated for Pelicans’ U18 team as a 15-year-old after beginning the year with the club’s U16 squad and played for Finland’s U16 team. In 31 games he scored 2 goals with 6 assists and had 12 penalty minutes. Sopanen played 18 international contests with Finland’s U16 team; scoring 2 goals with 6 assists and finishing +6 with 12 penalty minutes. In six games at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games he scored 1 goal with 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes.

2012-13: Sopanen played 16 games for the Pelicans U20 team and eight games with the club’s U18 team —missing part of the season due to injury — and represented Finland in the 2013 U17 World Hockey Challenge in Canada. He scored 1 goal with 6 assists and was -1 with 12 penalty minutes playing for Pelicans’ U20 team. Sopanen had 2 goals, 5 assists and 8 penalty minutes with the club’s U18 squad. In five games at the WHC he scored 1 goal and had 4 penalty minutes.

2013-14: Sopanen was limited to 14 games for the Pelicans’ U20 team early in the year due to back and neck injuries and missed the U20 World Junior Championship. He returned to late in the year, skating for Pelicans in the U20 and U18 playoffs and appearing in one game with the Finland U18 team at the World Juniors before again suffering an injury. He scored 3 goals with 6 assists and was +3 with 18 assists in 15 regular season games and scored 1 goal with 1 assist and an even plus/minus in eight playoff games for the Pelicans A Junior team. He scored one goal with one assist in his only U18 playoff game. Sopanen was +1 with no points nor penalties in one game at the World Juniors. Finland hosted the tournament but was eliminated in the quarterfinals, after losing to Sweden, 10-0.opanen was ranked 31st amongst European skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings but was not selected in the 2014 NHL Draft.

2014-15: Sopanen split the season between the Pelicans’ Liiga and U20 squads and also skated for Peliitat Heinola in Mestis in his first pro season. He played in 23 Liiga games for Pelicans, recording 3 assists and finishing +1 with 12 penalty minutes. In 11 Mestis games with Peliitat he was -2 with 2 assists and 10 penalty minutes. Sopanen played 20 games for the Pelicans U2o team, scoring 3 goals with 5 assists and finishing +3 with 40 penalty minutes. He served as an assistant captain for the Finland U19 team and was -1 with no points and 6 penalty minutes in three games.  Sopanen was ranked 69th amongst European skaters in the 2015 CSS mid-term rankings but was not among the 110 players in the final rankings prior to the 2015 NHL Draft. 

Talent Analysis

Sopanen is the younger brother of one-time Devils' prospect Vili Sopanen and Iiro Sopanen, both forwards. Among the top defenseman prospects in his age group, injuries kept him off the ice for much of the 2013-14 season and he was not selected in the 2014 NHL Draft. His size and raw skills have garnered attention. When healthy he is an effective two-way defender with the skating ability both to defend in his own zone and create plays off the transition game.

Future

Sopanen after being hampered by injuries the two previous seasons, appeared to get his career back on track in 2014-15. Ability-wise, he compares favorably with other young defensemen but the lost time has stunted his development somewhat in terms of positional and tactical play. He still has the potential to be an effective two-way defensemen one day and should be an intriguing late-round option in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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