Topi Niemela (D) – Finland
Topi Niemela played in last year’s 2021 World Junior Championships at the age of 18. He had been drafted just a few months prior to the tournament by the Toronto Maple Leafs with their 3rd round pick (64th overall) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Prior to playing in the U20 WJC, Niemela had been a part of Finland’s U16, U17 and U18 teams and was starting his second season in the Finnish professional men’s Liiga.
Topi Niemela became the star defenseman of the tournament with 8 points in 7 games and winning the Best Defenseman award along with awards for Most Points by a Defenseman, Most Goals by a Defenseman and Most Assists by a Defenseman. Finland would also win the bronze medal.
Niemela will return for this year’s World Junior Championships with Team Finland. He’s currently leading all Liiga defensemen with 22 points in 28 games which is particularly amazing for a 19 year-old.
I’d expect Topi Niemela to participate in his first NHL camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season and be awarded an NHL entry level contact very soon. I’m excited to see what he can accomplish at the year’s tournament and the rest of his hockey career.
2021 World Juniors
Best Defenseman Award
Most Points by a Defenseman in the Tournament
Most Goals by a Defenseman in the Tournament
Most Assists by a Defenseman in the Tournament
7 Games, 2 Goals, 8 Points