The NY Islanders select defenseman Jesse Pulkkinen 54th overall

2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

On the clock at No. 54, the NY Islanders selected defenseman Jesse Pulkkinen.

A 6'6" defenseman who played with JYP in Finland last year, Pulkkinen is an overager, in his second year of draft eligibility.

A defense-first blueliner, Pulkkinen isn't the strongest skater but has decent straight-line speed once he gets going, and depends mostly on his physicality. Outside of Stian Solberg who went 23rd overall to the Anaheim Ducks, Pulkkinen is probably the second most physical defenseman in this year's draft.

Pulkkinen's offense improved immensely this season, going from scoring just four points in 43 games during his draft year while playing in the Finnish U20 league, to 28 (11 G, 17A) in 18 games, and 8 points (2 G, 6 A) playing in Liiga, the top Finnish league.

He was part of Finland's World Junior Championship team, finishing with 3 points (1 G, 2 A) in 7 games.

He's a raw talent, and as we've seen in the past, defensemen at his size typically take longer to develop. Likely returning to Finland this season for what should be a full season in Liiga, Pulkkinen's skating will be at the forefront.

"I think the hype is starting to get a little too much," one Western Conference Scout to Elite Prospects (paid subscription) via their Prospect report. "I don't think that he's mobile enough or tough enough to be a good defenseman, and I'm not sold on his playmaking ability, even if he's getting more points in junior."

Mobile defensemen have become the way of the new NHL, but those with size still play a role. The Islanders have Isaiah George and Calle Odelius in their current prospect pool and likely figured they needed to add a bit of size with this pick.

Pulkkinen likely doesn't have a Norris Trophy in his future, but he can hopefully become a serviceable bottom-4 defenseman who plays on the penalty kill.