After flying under the radar for the whole 2011–12 season, Oilers goalie prospect Samu Perhonen is having something of a comeback this year.
Photo: © Jani Maukonen, www.jatkoaika.com. Used with personal permission from the author. All rights reserved.
When Samu Perhonen was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, he was thought of as a long term project. He had only played junior hockey in Finland, backstopping JYP to a U20 league championship. Even though he was the starter for Team Finland in the U18 World Championships later that spring, he struggled in that role.
Perhonen played the season following his draft year mostly in the Finnish II tier league Mestis, serving as the backup for JYP's farm team JYP-Akatemia. His stats were downright awful, and there were rumors about his work ethic and attitude towards training not being professional enough. When he was demoted back to the junior league in order to get some ice time, his stats were as good as the year before.
This year, the 6'5" goalie has enjoyed somewhat more success. His stats in Mestis are on par with the team starter Sami Rajaniemi, and his ice time is also up from last year. After having played only eleven games for JYP-Akatemia in 2011–12, Perhonen now has started five of the team's thirteen games.
Maybe the biggest thing is, however, that Perhonen is back in consideration for the Finnish WJC squad. He was named to the "challenger team" which plays three games against similar squad from Czech Republic in mid November (at the same time as the actual U20 Team Finland competes in 4 nations tournament in Sweden). None of the other eligible goalies has had a great year so far, so a solid performance by Perhonen might secure him a spot in head coach Harri Rindell's final roster.