The 2019-2020 season is a set big year for Eero Niemi. Niemi moved from Finland to the U.S.A. to play in the USHL. Niemi, who is eligible for the NHL Entry Draft in 2021, made waves last season playing in the Jr. A SM Liiga as a 16-year-old.
Niemi recorded 14 points in 39 games last season, establishing himself as a top draft-eligible prospect for next year’s National Hockey League Draft. Niemi decided that he wanted to get used to playing hockey in North America and live out his dreams which is why he decided to come to the USHL after being drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers at the 2019 USHL Entry Draft.
I reached out to Niemi to discuss how he got into playing hockey, his expectations for himself this year, his hopes for the future and more.
Q: At what age did you start playing hockey?
A: “I started when I was six-years-old.”
Q: How did you first get into hockey?
A: “I started to play hockey with my friends, It all started when we didn’t want to play soccer anymore.”
Q: What made you decide to move to the USHL?
A: “I wanted to go to college and in Finland, it is not possible to play hockey at the same time I am in college. So I wanted to come to the USHL to play hockey before college.”
Q: So you are planning on going to the NCAA?
A: “Yea, that is my goal.”
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to move to North America to play hockey?
A: “To play in America has always been my dream, but I decided to move to North America this year before the summer.”
Q: If you were not drafted to the USHL, would you have stayed in Finland this season or did you have other options in North America?
A: “If I wouldn’t have picked up to USHL, I would have played in Finland in Ässät U-20 team.”
Q: Do you plan to stay in the USHL during your draft year next season?
A: “I don’t know yet, but probably.”
Q: Do you expect there to be a major learning curve to playing hockey in North America over Finland?
A: “The game is different in many ways because the rink is smaller and if I want to play hockey in college, I need to know how to play American hockey. Finland is a great place to play hockey and so are North America too. I don’t know what to expect yet, but I have a good feeling about this year.”
Q: How would you describe your game?
A: “I like to score goals, I think I am a power forward and two-way forward.”
Q: Would you say there is anyone who you model your game after and if so who?
A: “I don’t know, but first one that came to my mind was Vladimir Tarasenko.”
Q: Do you have a favourite NHL player and team?
A: “Not one favourite player, I like to watch all the superstars. I don’t have a favourite team either… I usually like the teams where the superstars play.”
Q: Where do you see your self in relation to the draft. What are your goals for the draft?
A: “I haven’t thought about the draft at all. If I get drafted, that is a dream come true moment. If I don’t, life doesn’t end to that.”