In what was otherwise a forgetful effort for the Carolina Hurricanes, Eetu Luostarinen made his presence felt well beyond his pregame rookie lap.
The Carolina Hurricanes seemed to be a step behind last night. That, or Henrik Lundqvist was three steps ahead. Regardless, I’m a big proponent of credit where credit is due. King Henrik gets his credit, as does Hurricanes’ rookie Eetu Luostarinen.
Luostarinen was originally picked by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round, 42nd overall, in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. I’ve been looking forward to seeing him get his shot with the big club for awhile now. While he didn’t find his way on to the score sheet, he definitely found his way into my phone’s notes app. So, let’s recap his debut.
As to be expected, Luostarinen played a bit of a sheltered role. He saw only 9:21 TOI over the span of 12 shifts, all at even strength. I don’t blame Coach Brind’Amour, though. As much as he probably wanted to see what he had in the kid, it’s tough to toss him out there with confidence when he’s flanked by Brock McGinn and Brian Gibbons.
The first thing I noticed about Luostarinen was how effectively he leveraged his 6′ 2″ 178 pound frame. He played his size, if not slightly larger. In a night where the Carolina Hurricanes dominated the face-off dot, Luostarinen did his part by winning 4/7 draws (57.1%).
He looked great on the forecheck, and with the aid of his speedy line mates, he was able to apply pressure pretty consistently. Luostarinen finished his first game with a CF% of 69.2%, which was likely aided by the fact that he started in the offensive zone 80% of the time. He was credited with one hit, but it felt like he was using his body more frequently than that.
Luostarinen fired two shots last night, and much like the other 45 shots the Carolina Hurricanes took, they both found their way on net. In all seriousness, I generally liked his positioning in the offensive zone. He didn’t ever seem to be lost on the ice.
A quality that I liked in his game was his top-end speed. It was most noticeable in the early going when his legs were fresh and he was actively back checking. His two-way prowess was evident last night, and I liked his north-south skating.
Overall, I thought Luostarinen played a smart and simple game. He made a good first impression on his coaches and the fans alike. In fact, I considered him one of the standouts from last night.
I’m mentally prepared for him to be reassigned to the Charlotte Checkers in the coming days, but I hope he gets a few more cracks. He looks like he has the tools to be a solid third-line NHL center. I’ll be interested to see how he continues to develop his game.
Question for CC Readers: How did you feel about Luostarinen’s NHL debut?