2010-11: Julius Vahatalo skated for the TuTo club in Turku, Finland; splitting the season between the U18 and U16 teams. In 27 games at the U18 level he scored 4 goals with 9 assists and 35 penalty minutes. Vahatalo played 19 games with the TuTo U16 team, including two C junior playoff games, and scored 31 goals with 29 assists and 6 penalty minutes.
2011-12: Vahatalo started the year with TuTo before skating for Turku top division club, TPS. He played eight games in A junior with the TPS U20 team, recording 1 goal with 1 assist and finishing with an even plus/minus. He played a key role for the TPS U18 team as the squad captured a bronze medal in the B junior playoffs. Vahatalo scored 5 goals with 12 assists and 14 penalty minutes in 17 regular season games and scored 2 goals with 4 assists in six playoff games. In 11 games with TuTo’s two B junior teams he scored 4 goals with 3 assists and 6 penalty minutes.
2012-13: Vahatalo skated in eight games with the TPS U20 team and played 14 games for the TPS U18 team — missing nearly three months after suffering a hand injury when he was cut by a skate. He had 4 assists and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes for TPS in A junior play. He scored 11 goals with 13 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 13 regular season games for the TPS U18 team and had 2 assists in one playoff game.
2013-14: Vahatalo made his Liiga debut in January, skating in 18 regular season games for TPS, and was the second-leading scorer for the TPS U20 team despite skating in just 33 games during the regular season. He recorded 3 assists and was +1 with no penalties, averaging eight minutes of ice time with the TPS men’s team. Vahatalo scored 18 goals with 21 assists and was +20 with 6 penalty minutes in the regular season for TPS in the A junior regular season and was minus-1 with no points nor penalties in three playoff games. Not among the 140 international skaters in the Central Scouting rankings in his second year of draft eligibility, Vahatalo was selected by Detroit in the sixth round (166th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.
2014-15: Vahatalo was one of several teenagers to see significant ice time for rebuilding TPS Turku in Finland’s Liiga and represented Finland in the 2015 World Junior Championship. Playing both center and wing for TPS, he scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was -9 with 8 penalty minutes. TPS finished 13th in the 14-team lead, ahead of only first-year club Vaasa Sport. Vahatalo was +1 with no points nor penalties in five games at the WJC. Finland finished 7th after falling to Sweden, 6-3, in a quarterfinal game.
2015-16: Vahatalo skated in 49 regular season games and six playoff contests for TPS Turku in his second Liiga season. He scored 9 goals with 4 assists and was -4 with 6 penalty minutes, averaging 12:21 minutes of ice time during the regular season. TPS finished seventh during the regular season, sweeping Vaasa Sport in a preliminary series before falling to Karpat Oulu in the quarterfinals. Vahatalo had an even plus/minus with no points nor penalties, averaging 9:25 minutes of ice time in six playoff games.
Vahatalo uses his large frame well, never giving up in puck pursuit and playing with effort every shift. Offensively, he has good hockey sense and can both pass and score. His skating speed is an issue but he has decent hands and technical skills for a player his size.
Vahatalo showed progress skating for TPS Turku in 2015-16 in his second Liiga season. Led by former NHL veterans such as Petteri Nummelin, Tomi Kallio and Henrik Tallinder the club went from 13th to seventh place and Vahatalo learned a lot playing with several experienced players. His game is still a work in progress and Vahatalo has yet to receive an entry-level contract from Detroit, trailing some of the other highly-skilled forwards in the Red Wings' pipeline. Detroit can afford to be patient with his progress since he does not have to be signed until 2018 and his combination of size and skill is rare.