Ambrì-Piotta’s strategy is clear. The club wants to invest in youths or in the type of players that are willing to make a name for themselves right to take the next step in their careers. The 23 years old ambitious Finn Julius Nättien is certainly a part of the second group of the above-mentioned kind of a player.
Let’s get to know more about this young gun that can seriously improve under Luca Cereda in Ticino.
Date of Birth: 14 gennaio 1997
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Julius Nättinen is the last one of three brothers, all forwards, who became ice hockey professionals. The “senior” is Jussi, who mostly played in the Mestis – second tier of Finn hockey – and last season wore the jersey of Podhale Nowy Targ in Poland and who during his career also collected 7 Liiga appearances. Then there is the 29 years old Joonas, currently a KHL player who was able to make the debut in the most prestigious league of the world with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2013-14 season. And well, it’s clear that Julius Nättinen wants to follow Joonas’ footsteps.
Julius in fact, didn’t hide the fact that his target is to play in the NHL and in this regard Ambrì-Piotta can be the perfect place to improve his game and make his dream come true in the future.
It will not be Julius’s first experience abroad though. The guy, born on January 14th, 1997 – the same day when Ambri-Piotta suffered a 3-0 road defeat against the ZSC Lions… – played youth hockey for JYP and always with the team based in Jyväskylä made his debut in the top tier of Finn hockey during the 2013-14 season when he wasn’t even 18 years old.
Then, he was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 59th overall position during the 2015 draft and moved overseas where he firstly played two seasons in the OHL with the Barrie Colts and the Windsor Spitfires and then a season in the AHL with the San Diego Gulls.
His figures in North America were decent. 122 OHL appearances 121 points and 55 AHL appearances 12 points.
At the end of the 3-years deal with the Ducks, however, Julius Nättien moved back to Europe and more precisely he went back home to his Jyväskylä where he spent the last two seasons before moving to Ambrì.
Overall, in the Liiga, Julius Nättinen collected 107 appearances tallying 81 points. It was mostly during the last season, however, that the guy really blossomed thanks to 55 points scored in 54 games what, among other things, earned him the right to be in the Liiga All Star Team of the season!
And now it’s Leventina time, where he certainly hopes to make the fans dream and where he wants to show off all his talent in order to become, in the future, a key player in the NHL.
They say great things about Julius Nättinen, already silver medallist in 2015 with the U18 of Finland and gold medallist in 2016 at the World Juniors. One thing is sure, the guy is ambitious, young and is hungry. These are great basis. When it comes to his skills as a player instead, as usual we wanted to hear the opinion from someone who’s been following him from close.
We had the pleasure to know Jere Korkalainen, freelance journalist of Jyväskylä. Let’s see what he can tell us about the player.
Jyväskylä as a hockey town has been known for their good puck-moving defensemen for the past decade. Guys like Olli Määttä, Sami Niku, Sami Vatanen and Anttoni Honka set the par for all the rookie players coming to JYP’s defense.
In the last decade Julius Nättinen was the only forward from Jyväskylä that got drafted to the NHL. He comes from a big hockey family where his two older brothers and his cousin have all played professional hockey too.
Julius and his cousin Topi have both celebrated winning the WJC, Topi in 2014 and Julius in 2016, while Joonas Nättinen is the only one who has played a game in the NHL.
Julius is often thought to be the most talented out of the bunch. He moved to North America at young age but couldn’t break through to NHL. In the middle of the 2018/19 season he came back to Jyväskylä and had some hard times getting back on the right track. Also JYP’s season was tough and Risto Dufva became teams head coach in january.
During Dufva’s time Nättinen found himself not playing the minutes he desperately needed and fell of the roster for many games. His talent, especially in the offensive end, have been acknowledged and he made his breakthrough last season. He was the best goalscorer in Liiga with 33 goals in 54 games.
New head coach Pekka Tirkkonen gave him a big role in teams TOP6 and he had a strong start for the season. Petrus Palmu, His old linemate from Finnish junior national teams, joined JYP in october and the pair showed some great chemistry, with Miska Siikonen making the space as a big centerman.
Nättinen got to show his biggest strengths, which can be seen in the offensive zone. He is smart with and without the puck. His release is lethal, and skating has also been improving to a really good level. He has good puck skills in small spaces which helped a lot to keep the offense going. As a goal scorer he isn’t the flashiest type of player, he is good at reading where to be and when to be there. So, I’d say you get most out of him when he has a solid playmaker playing with him who gets the puck over the neutral zone.
His weakness comes in lack of consistency. He can have long periods in a season when he falls to shadows and can’t really rise up to the occasion. So, leadership abilities might be an issue. There are also some question marks on his defensive ability and if that is enough to play at the highest level. All in all, I expect him fitting to Swiss hockey well.
It is interesting to see will he play as a center or a winger. During his pro career he has been more of a winger and he has said he enjoys playing there. There he could also focus more on the offense.
Thank you, Jere!
Julius Nättinen seems to be a great addition. He can be devastating in the offensive zone and this is what Ambrì-Piotta needs. In Switzerland, moreover, he can work on himself and take his game to the next level… that is, he can improve his defensive game and become a leader thanks to the fact that he will be one of the four imports, which means an honour but also more responsibility.
Time will tell what impact Julius will have in Ambrì. But again, it seems like Paolo Duca did a great job in bringing him to Ambrì!
* Julius Nättinen already played in Switzerland, and against our national team too. Specifically, it happened during the U18 Worlds of 2016 played i Zug and Luzern. On that occasion, he faced our national team twice – in both cases the Finns prevailed – and didn’t score points. He scored, however, two goals during that tournament including one during the final when Finland suffered a 2-1 overtime defeat against the USA.
* 2016 was not the only time that Julius Nättinen had to deal with Switzerland. With JYP in fact, he played the 2014-15 Champions Hockey League and faced Kloten twice. In both cases the Finns prevailed, and in each case, Julius didn’t score points. To note, however, that the former Ambrì-Piotta Mikko Mäenpää scored one goal for the Finn on August 24th, 2014, in Jyväskylä when the hosts earned a 2-0 win.
* Mikko Mäenpää isn’t the only former teammate of Julius Nättinen that can be linked to Switzerland. During the years in Finland in fact, Julius played alongside Eric Perrin (former Bern and Biel-Bienne), Juha-Pekka Hytönen (former Lausanne), Jarkko Immonen (former Zug) and Ossi Louhivaara (former Lausanne). When he was at the San Diego Gulls on the other hand, he played alongside Reto Berra (currently at Fribourg Gottéron), Specer Abbott (former Kloten) and Eric Fehr (former Genève Servette).