Deadline Approaching to Sign Samu Perhonen

Bruce Bennett

June 1st mark the deadline for the Oilers to sign 2011 draft pick Samu Perhonen.

I came across a quick post on Hockey Prospectus yesterday about the signing deadline for 2011 draft picks. The following is taken from that story:

NHL teams have up to and including June 1 to sign prospects drafted in the 2011 NHL Draft who have played in Europe (but outside Russia) and Major Junior. Scouts I have talked to have indicated that previous year CBA rules apply to the European prospects drafted in the previous CBA. As in teams have two years as opposed to four years to sign a player. I have not heard any official confirmation on this, but this is what industry sources have told me.

In 2011 the Oilers drafted nine players starting with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and finishing with Frans Tuohimaa. Of those nine, the only player to whom this deadline applies is Samu Perhonen, the Oilers first pick in the third round, number 62 overall. In his draft year Perhonen's save percentage ranked fifth in the Jr. A SM-liiga, and Tuohimaa was the only player above him on that list who was in his first year of eligibility.

In the two years following his draft Perhonen's numbers have been nowhere close to as good, but his situation might be a big factor in the drop off. Following the draft Perhonen, who is now listed as 6'5", jumped from Finland's junior ranks to pro, playing with JYP-Akatemia in the Finnish Mestis League (second level). Looking at the stats below -- courtesy of eliteprospects.com -- you have to wonder if that jump was premature, and that maybe another year in junior might have been a better way to go.

Perhonen rebounded slightly this season from a downright ugly 0.887 save percentage in 2011/12 to a somewhat respectable 0.902 save percentage this season, but compared to the other goalie on his team he hasn't been very good. In each of the last two seasons Perhonen has served as a backup to Sami Rajaniemi who is just one year older and has outplayed him significantly posting save percentages of 0.911 and 0.915 in those same seasons. I think it's fair to say that Perhonen has struggled since being drafted two years ago.

In the summer 2011 version of the Copper & Blue's Top 25 Under 25 Perhonen was ranked 23rd; since then he has dropped every time, to 31st, 35th, and most recently 38th. Looking back at that summer 2011 post of Scott's I found the scouting report from Red Line Report to be quite interesting.

He plays way too hyper a style for our liking with a lot of wasted movement. He overcommits on everything near his crease and often ends up beating himself. He also lacks any sense of anticipation for developing plays and comes up small on the big stage in important games. We suspect he'll be taken fairly high on his very projectable size/athleticism combination, but he'll require years of refining and technique work with a good goalie coach to realize his potential.

That report is absolutely right in that Perhonen was taken fairly high, and his numbers indicate that he has yet to come close to realizing the potential that the Oilers saw in 2011. The question now becomes whether or not the Oilers are willing to keep him in the system in hopes of that happening. The signing of Tuohimaa last month would seem to point to the Oilers seeing him as a more important prospect than Perhonen, but does that mean the Oilers are ready to walk away from Perhonen altogether.

Selected with the 62nd overall pick, the selection of Perhonen was the earliest the Oilers had taken a goaltender since the 2004 draft when they took Devan Dubnyk 14th overall. Might management see similarities between the two, big bodies that take years to develop? They might, but with Olivier Roy, Tyler Bunz, and Tuohimaa ahead of him on the depth chart my gut says that even if they do they will let him go. That will make him the first casualty of the Oilers 2011 draft.

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