Markus Nutivaara


Oulu Finland

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7th round (189th overall), 2015


185 lbs.

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2010-11: Markus Nutivaara skated in three games with the Ahmat Haukipudas men’s team in northeast Finland as a 16-year-old — competing in Suomi-Sarja (the Finnish third league) — and was an assistant captain for the club’s U18 team. He had no points with 2 penalty minutes in three men’s games. Nutivaara scored 10 goals with 13 assists and 43 penalty minutes in 22 games for the Ahmat U18 team.

2011-12: Nutivaara moved from the lower division club Ahmat to play for neighboring Karpat Oulu in Finland’s top U18 league. The top scorer amongst Karpat defensemen, he scored 10 goals with 20 assists and 14 penalty minutes in 44 regular season games. After finishing fifth in the regular season, Karpat advanced to the playoff semifinals, eventually falling to third-place TPS in the bronze medal game. Nutivaara scored 2 goals with 4 assists and 4 penalty minutes in six playoff games. He was not among the 120 international skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings in his first year of draft eligibility and was not selected in the 2012 NHL Draft.

2012-13: Nutivaara went from Oulu to Lahti, skating for the Pelicans U20 team. In 42 regular season games he scored 4 goals with 11 assists and was +4 with 14 penalty minutes. Pelicans missed the A juniors playoffs, finishing 15th in the 16-team league.

2013-14: Nutivaara made his pro debut with Mestis club Jokipojat Joensuu — skating in 11 games in Finland’s second league on loan from Karpat — after returning to Oulu for the season. He had 3 assists and was +5 with 4 penalty minutes in Mestis play. Nutivaara played three exhibition games with the Finland U20 team and was +2 with 1 assist and 4 penalty minutes. He was not with the squad during its gold medal run at the 2014 World Juniors. An assistant captain for Karpat’s U20 team, he scored 2 goals with 9 assists and was +11 with 10 penalty minutes in 19 regular season games. Karpat reached the playoff finals after finishing fifth in the regular season, falling to first-place Espoo Blues. Nutivaara scored 1 goal with 4 assists and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes in 12 playoff games.

2014-15: Nutivaara skated for Liiiga champion Karpat Oulu as a 20-year-old rookie, one of the few young players to see significant ice time on a veteran squad. In 35 regular season games he was +7 with 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes, averaging 12:47 minutes of ice time. Paired at times with Swedish veteran Adam Masuhr (formerly Anderson) during the Kanada Cup playoffs, Nutivaara scored 1 goal with 5 assists in 16 games and was +6 with no penalties, averaging 18:21 minutes per game. In his fourth year of draft eligibility, Nutivaara was not ranked among the international skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings. He was selected by Columbus in the seventh round (189th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft.

2015-16: Nutivaara emerged as one of Liiga’s top defensemen with two-time defending champion Karpat despite missing 10 games due to injury late in the year. In his second season with the Oulu club he scored 6 goals with 16 assists and was +10 with 14 penalty minutes, averaging 19:45 minutes of ice time. Karpat finished second to HIFK in the regular season. Heading into the playoff semifinals, Nutivaara scored 1 goal with 4 assists in six playoff games and was +5 with no penalty minutes, averaging 22:22 minutes of ice time per game.

Talent Analysis

Nutivaara has blossomed into a skating defenseman with some playmaking ability in his second Liiga season after playing a carefully calculated game as a rookie in 2014-15. He does not get overly involved physically but has gained confidence as his role increased playing against men; building on his strong playoff run when Karpat captured the 2014-15 championship.


Nutivaara has gone from a late round reach pick to an intriguing prospect after a big season for Karpat as a 21-year-old in 2015-16. Drafted in his third year of draft eligibility, he has yet to sign a contract with a Blue Jackets' organization that is fairly deep in defense prospects. What makes him interesting is his combination of skating ability and playmaking which suggests he can be an effective second pairing defenseman.

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