The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the RawCharge community. Ten writers and 106 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked, plus Honorable Mentions.
Coming in at #22 on our list is forward Jonne Tammela. To start, let’s look at the voting breakdown. This year readers participated in the voting along with the Raw Charge staff. Tammela ended up being ranked fairly consistently by both staff and readers. The biggest outlier among the staff was Matt’s high rank of 15, but, as Matt explained, he was also the one who saw Tammela most recently. Tammela really impressed him at the Lightning’s development camp, and that encouraged his high rating. Among our readers, it’s clear that Tammela has quite a few fans, some of whom consistently ranked him even higher than Matt did.
Tammela was drafted by the Lightning in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Post-draft, Tammela decided to play one more season in Finland, where he put up put up 13 points in 37 games for KalPa Kuopio. The following season, Tammela began the transition to North America with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL.
Unfortunately, Tammela only got in two games with the Petes during the 2016-17 season. Those games were right at the start of the season before he was sidelined by not one, not two, but three knee surgeries. Tammela ended up needing two surgeries on his right knee and one surgery on his left, a pattern of seemingly never-ending procedures and rehabs that sidelined him for a season and a half.
On January 9th, 2018, Tammela was traded to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, a move which seemed a bit strange at the time considering Tammela hadn’t played any hockey at all in 18 months. However, the Grayhounds were a powerhouse in the OHL this past season, and it was expected that if Tammela recovered, he probably could have cracked their second or third line pretty consistently. That would have made a fine starting point for a young center coming off of that many surgeries.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Lightning elected to keep him with Syracuse, where he had been rehabbing, instead of sending him back to the OHL to complete his over-age year. Their gamble paid off. On January 15th, 2018, Tammela scored his first professional goal in just his third game with the Crunch, earning him the chance to wear the storied player of the game football helmet during his media interview that night.
Tammela would score his three goals of the season in his first eight games back from injury before things cooled a bit again for the rookie. However, what he showed in those first games back was enough for the organization to feel confident enough in his ability to play at the professional level. Tammela finished the season in Syracuse.
After he scored his first professional goal, Crunch captain Erik Condra had nothing but praise for Tammela’s work ethic and good things to say about his future.
It’s been a long road for him. And there’s been some ups and downs and setbacks. It takes a long time, but it’s great to see him out there. He’s working hard. You can tell he’s put a lot of work in. Sometimes even he thinks you never can return when it takes that long. But he’s put in his work, and you can see out there he’s got some skill and he’s going to be a great player at some point.
Tammela’s triumphant return also caught the eye of Lightning forward Cory Conacher:
Many people would have hung up there skates a long time ago if they were in this kids shoes! Thatta boy @jtmmela— Cory Conacher (@conhockey19) January 15, 2018
Tammela is projected as a future fourth liner in the NHL, and Raw Charge staff writer Geo has compared him to Cedric Paquette. Tammela is pesky and he’s a harder worker, but he also missed out on a season and a half of development. That’s probably going to hamper his path to the NHL, and he’s going to have to prove himself at the AHL level first before the Lightning will take much of a chance on him.
Regardless of time lost, it seems like Tammela is now making the most of his current healthy state. His post-prospect camp reviews were sparkling, with Matt remarking that “Tammela was the de-facto catalyst for nearly everything Team Johnson did.” Matt also praised Tammela’s vision on the ice, his passing ability, and his puck-control ability. Overall, that’s a great look for a player that once thought he might never play hockey again.
It will be very interesting to see what Tammela does in Syracuse this upcoming season.