Blackhawks' draft pick Riku Tohila (20). (Photo from @MarkLazerus on Twitter.]

There are quite a few tall players in the NHL these days, but most of them seem to be goalies or defensemen. And even when there are larger forwards, they tend to be wingers rather than centers. But there’s now at least one giant center competing for a NHL roster spot. That would be Riku Tohila, the Chicago Blackhawks’ seventh-round pick (199th overall) in last week’s NHL draft. While many prospect sites list the 18-year-old Tohila (from Kalajoki, Finland) as 6’5”, he’s apparently 6’8” now, and he was absolutely towering over players at a Blackhawks’ workout Monday:

If Tohila is actually 6’8”, and if he makes the Blackhawks’ roster at some point (he’s expected to return to Finland this fall, but might show up in North America down the road), that would put him amongst the tallest players ever to play in the NHL. The tallest ever is 45-year-old 6’9”, 256-pound New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara, who may or may not retire this offseason. As per a NBC Sports Washington piece last fall from Max Molski, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr (now with the Anaheim Ducks), Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers and Ottawa Senators goaltending prospect Mads Sogaard were the only three 6’8” active players at that point, with recent retirees John Scott and Joe Finley also clocking in at 6’8”.

One of the big questions for Tohila is about that weight, though. At 190 pounds, he’s 66 pounds lighter than what Chara was listed at this season, and significantly lighter than the NHL.com listed weights for Sustr (217  pounds) and Myers (229 pounds). Sogaard is only listed at 196 pounds, so he’s closer, but he’s also a goalie; there’s less of a potential issue with people pushing him off the puck. And even Blackhawks’ scout Mike Doneghey noted that Tohila has a lot to learn on the ice still:

Many seventh-round picks never get a NHL shot, so it’s far from certain we’ll ever see Tohila play a regular-season game for the Blackhawks. But he’s certainly an interesting and unusual prospect. And it’s quite something seeing a 6’8” Finnish center gliding around the ice.

[Charlie Roumeliotis on Twitter; image via Mark Lazerus on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.