Film Room: How Jesse Pulkkinen went from unknown draft prospect to Finland's highest-scoring junior defenceman
Jesse Pulkkinen's development over the past year has been nothing sort of spectacular.
Last season, he contributed just four points in 43 games with JYP's U20 squad in his first year of draft eligibility. For context, that ranked 59th in points among all U19 defencemen in the league.
Looking back, those modest point totals didn't exactly do justice to Pulkkinen's level of play. Still, there wasn't much on the surface that could've predicted what he has turned into this year.
He opened the season with two three-point showings in his first four appearances and didn't look back. During his two-month rampage through the Finnish U20 league, Pulkkinen added 11 goals and 28 points in just 18 games.
He's still sitting second in leaguewide scoring among all defencemen, despite not having played any games in over a month. His 1.56 points per game are not only the top mark by a country mile among defencemen, but he also ranks in the top-10 when you include all forwards with at least 10 games played.
Pulkkinen had a brief, productive stint in Mestis before finally getting called up by JYP's Liiga team. In his debut, the 6-foot-6 blueliner logged over 18 minutes of ice time and immediately played with the same level of confidence he's had all season long. Based on his play, there's a strong chance he's going to stick in the lineup for the rest of the season.
Having not played any international games before this season, Pulkkinen has quickly proven himself with Finland's U20 squad, too. He racked up six points in eight appearances between August's and November's tournaments and seems primed for a top-four role at the World Juniors.
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