By Ross MacLean
The World Under-18 Championship is easily one of the most exciting events on the scouting calendar.
It is an opportunity to compare skill sets and talent levels against the varying styles that are present in the international stage.
One of the more interesting comparisons is that of the top European talent against the North American style.
Top Finnish prospect Teemu Pulkkinen is a perfect example this year. Regarded as one of the best European skaters for the past few years, Pulkkinen's status took a hit this season after some injury woes.
A gifted scorer with a lightning quick release, Pulkkinen has been playing with Jokerit of Finland's SM-liiga. Tagged as a second-rounder, Pulkkinen has top-20 potential and could be the player who could benefit the most from a strong showing at this tournament.
And judging by his first two games, that is just what he plans to do.
Pulkkinen has a passion for scoring that can be compared to the greatest in the game. Maybe only Alex Ovechkin celebrates his goals and his teammate's goals with more gusto than Pulkkinen, but even that is up for debate.
Perceptions of his size may hold him back slightly. Although he is not small (listed at 5-foot-11, 180-pounds), he does play physical and his possession game forces him to absorb a lot of hits as well.
Pulkkinen is a dazzling offensive threat with tremendous character and is an excellent hybrid of European skill and North American heart.
Keep an eye out for him should Finland run into Canada or the USA in the playoff rounds.
Ross MacLean is the head of European scouting and part of the management team at International Scouting Services. He specializes in major international tournaments and will cover the U-18s for THN.com throughout the event. Get more information about ISS at isshockey.com or purchase the 2010 NHL Draft Guide HERE.
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