Coming in at #19 in the 2021 Raw Charge Top 25 Under 25, we have Syracuse Crunch center Otto Somppi. Somppi was previously ranked #23 in the 2018 Top 25 Under 25, but fell out of the rankings and now re-enters at a higher spot. Somppi was a 7th round pick, 206th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning from the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. In 59 games for the Mooseheads, Somppi put up 13 goals, 33 assists, and 46 points.
Prior to Somppi joining the Mooseheads, they had been a very strong team in the QMJHL, winning a QMJHL Championship and the Memorial Cup in 2012-13 with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. They also had produced other talented NHLers like MacKenzie Weegar, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Timo Meier. But when Somppi arrived, the team wasn’t as good and failed to make the playoffs, with Somppi finishing third on the team in scoring after Timo Meier who was traded mid-season.
Somppi’s follow-up season in the QMJHL was not much of an improvement with him posting 17 goals, 24 assists, and 41 points in 60 games. In his last QMJHL season before becoming an overager, he broke out offensively recording 28 goals, 55 assists, and 83 points in 59 games in 2017-18. His offensive breakout, getting beyond the point per game scoring mark, led to him being signed to an Entry Level Contract with the Lightning. He made his first professional appearance in the playoffs for the Crunch playing three games without recording a point.
Somppi split his first professional season with the Lightning organization between the Syracuse Crunch and the Orlando Solar Bears. With the Crunch, he recorded just two goals and four points in 27 games while playing in the bottom six. His production in Orlando was significantly better with 12 goals and 24 points in 21 games. He was then able to stick with the Syracuse Crunch for all of the 2019-20 season recording five goals and 18 points in 45 games.
With the global situation as it was at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, the European leagues began play before the North American leagues. The Lightning loaned him to the Pelicans of the Finnish Liiga where he posted a goal and three points in nine games. Upon Somppi’s return to the Crunch, he also found himself playing up higher in the line up and he recorded 12 goals and 26 points in 32 games.
Listed at 6’2” and 192 pounds, Somppi has good size for a center. He’s yet to put up the kind of offensive output you like to see for a forward in the AHL to make the leap to the NHL, but there’s at least still some potential for him to be an injury call-up one day. Somppi is a solid two-way center that does not take a lot of penalties. In his 104 career AHL games, he has 56 PIMs. In 178 career QMJHL games, he had only 83 PIMs. If he makes it to the NHL, then it would most likely be as a fourth line injury replacement.
As we get closer to training camp, we’ll see what kind of role Somppi will play in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch. With the possibility of at least one of Taylor Raddysh or Boris Katchouk making the Lightning’s roster, that opens up a spot in the top six. On the other hand, the Lightning have brought in Gabriel Dumont, Remi Elie, and Charles Hudon as veteran forwards for the Crunch. Dumont has experience playing at center, and could end up as the Crunch’s #1 center, but Elie and Hudon are both wingers. Somppi is likely to end up as the #2 center for the Crunch and could get some more power play time after recording four points on the power play last season.