Frans Tuohimaa enjoying experience as Oilers prospect

By Tony Piscotta

Nineteen-year-old goalie Frans Tuohimaa was one of two Finnish goalies selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2011 NHL Draft. The Jokerit prospect was selected in the seventh round (182nd overall) while Samu Perhonen, who played for JyP's junior club as well as Finland's U-18 team at the World Junior Championships, was selected in the third (62nd overall). Both recently attended the Oilers' July prospects camp but unfortunately Perhonen was sick for much of the camp. Hockey's Future recently caught up with Tuohimaa to get some feedback on his first experience as an NHL prospect.

Hockey's Future: Did you have a chance to talk to either Teemu Hartikainen or Toni Rajala (two other Finnish players in the Edmonton system) about the Oilers before you came to camp and did they give you any advice?

Frans Tuohimaa: I talk with Toni a lot in the army (both he and Rajala are completing their mandatory military service this summer) and he said to me that there's a lot of media etc. He also said that I should go to that big mall in Edmonton but I didn't visit there.

HF: Was this your first time in Canada and what your first impressions when you arrived in camp?

FT: Yes that was my first time in Canada. I've been in the US a couple of times but not in Canada. My first impression was that Canada is a normal and nice country. There are not so many differences between Finland and Canada. I know there's a lot of prairie etc. but [in Finland] we have a lot of forest so it's not that huge of a difference.

HF: What was the on-ice portion of the camp like?

FT: I really liked it. It was well organized and there were good coaches. I have nothing bad to say.

HF: How would you compare the drills and tests at the Edmonton camp to some of stuff they do at the Young Lions and Finnish national team camps and how do you think you did?

FT: I think there was more on-ice stuff than we have here. In Finland there is more off-ice stuff like running, skate jumps and some support practices. I think that Canadian and Finnish ways to do practices are both good and I'm trying to mix it together and find my own way to practice.

HF: What were some of the key points they emphasized for goalies and how does that fit your game?

FT: I learned there how I can play a more simple way. I can trust my body and cover more than before and I think it's good for me because I like to play a simple game. I don't want to do any moves that I don't need to do. That's how I keep my game looking easy.

HF: What were some of the things you learned about in the off-ice meetings and lessons?

FT: That's what we have a lot of in Finland and I think I'm quite good in things like that. But I did learn how to do some new foods. In a simple way: I learned a lot of things so I'll be ready when I go there some day.

HF: How would you describe the players in the camp (skaters not the goalies) and how do they compare to the players you've faced in Finland?

FT: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was such a skilled guy and it's easy to see why he was the first overall (draft pick). There were a lot of good guys. I've never been in that kind of group where there were so many skilled and potential hockey players.

HF: Unfortunately Samu Perhonen was sick most of the week, but what was it like having another goalie from Finland in the camp?

FT: It was easier for me to be there with Samu than alone. I had someone to speak with in my own language. But maybe it could be better to come alone next time to speak English all the time and learn to speak English better than now. I speak English but I just have to speak it better all the time.

HF: You and Samu play very similar styles – how does that style compare to the three other goalies that were in camp – Olivier Roy, Tyler Bunz, and Dustin Butler?

FT: I think that we're trying to move as little as possible when (the) Canadian guys are moving a lot all the time. But everybody has his own way to play and it doesn't matter at all if you stop the pucks.

HF: Were there any players that really impressed you in the camp and can you tell us what was impressive about them?

FT: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He has soft hands and good game reading skills. He has also a good and fast shot. Anton Lander. That Swedish guy has fast legs and he's doing his best all the time and that's something you can see only if you're watching while he's playing.

HF: After completing the camp, do you have any particular goals for this upcoming season?

FT: I'm trying to get a lot of games up there in SM-Liiga. I'm here in a challenger's situation but I will really go for it and I hope I will really challenge (projected Jokerit starter and 2003 Dallas draft pick) Eero Kilpeläinen.

HF: Is there any plan for when you will play in North America or are you more focused on competing in the SM-Liiga?

FT: I will come when it's time to come. First, I have to play good games here and help my team to get wins. I am just going to do my best everyday in games and in practice.