Prospect Viewing: Erik Haula

Erik Haula, Center
5'10", 184 Pounds 3/23/1991 Pori, Finland
University of Minnesota (NCAA)

I got to watch Haula live each of the last two Saturdays; New Year's Eve against Northeastern, and then against Notre Dame in the Hall of Fame Game. He's in his second year at Minnesota, having spent a year in the USHL with Omaha after playing at Shattuck St. Mary's in his Draft Year, which was 2009. He was in the 7th Round, 182nd overall.

Talent Analysis: While Haula is smallish, he plays with a decent amount of grit as most Finns do; while he isn't a prolific physical presence, he has sandpaper to his game. His game though is his hands; has excellent vision and hands, which allows him to make tape to tape passes from just about anywhere with any touch. Plays the point on the Gophers PP unit; shows a good intuition in terms of puck movement creating opportunities. Made an concerted effort to shoot more this season- I saw a number of one timers come off his stick from the point. Can overpass, foregoing scoring chances. His skating is good, but his stride and top end speed can be Jekyll and Hyde; one shift he'll really fly up the ice, then the next he'll look like his legs are jelly- almost like he was squatting down too low as he drove his legs. With Bjugstad and Rau at the WJC, Haula should have been the focal point of the Gophers team and didn't play well at all; leads me to believe that he's purely a secondary guy. Took some bad/selfish penalties; one of which was away from the play on a power play that negating nearly a full two minute man advantage. Intensity is questionable; makes things happen when he's fully engaged, yet there are the bad penalties and ineffectiveness- he was at his best when he plays with passion and urgency, like at the World Juniors last year.

The reality is that if we can get ANYTHING out of a 7th round pick, its all gravy for the Organization. Haula, while he is showing signs of progression, still has a way to go, not just in terms of elevating his skills, but also in terms of knowing how he has to play night in and night out.

photo courtesy of Normandale Sports Wrap.

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