Freshmen Spotlight: Erik Haula

Erik Haula (USHL Images)

Incoming freshman, Erik Haula of Finland, is the only foreign born player in this year's class and first European born player since Thomas Vanek who played for the Gophers in 2002-2004. Haula will bring a dynamic game of speed and passing ability to the Gophers this season.

Erik Haula is an extremely talented young player who will be ready to contribute the second he steps on the ice for the Gophers. Haula played his high school hockey in Minnesota at one of the best hockey schools in the country, Shattuck-St. Mary.

In 2009, Haula was selected by the Minnesota Wild as the first pick in the seventh round of the NHL draft.

Last year, Haula made a smooth transition into the USHL while playing for the Omaha Lancers. While playing for the Lancers, Haula racked up 28 goals and an amazing 44 assists for 72 points in 56 games. His 72 points was fifth best in the USHL. Haula's smooth transition to the USHL is a good sign that he will be able to contribute early for the Gophers.

Haula plays a great style of hockey that his centered around his speed and playmaking ability. At 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, Haula will not be the biggest guy on the ice. What he lacks in ideal size he makes up for with his passing.

In an interview with hockeysfuture.com, Haula explained that his passing is one of the best parts of his games. He said, "I think I've got pretty good vision on the ice and I can find linemates pretty good."

Haula could be a player in the mold of Jacob Cepis, or former Gophers, Tyler Hirsch and Ben Gordan. All three players were some of the best at making the right pass to their teammates. Haula's skillet is suited for the college game where he could excel for a number of years for the Gophers.

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