Oilers Finnish Goalie Prospects Slowly Progressing

Lisa McRitchie, all rights reserved

Edmonton Oilers only had two prospects playing in Finland this year, and both them are goalies. Samu Perhonen and Frans Tuohimaa were both drafted by the Oilers in 2011, and both had a rough 2011–12 campaign. Perhonen struggled all year long in the Finnish second tier league Mestis. Tuohimaa did well in the same league, but was overwhelmed by opposition in SM-liiga, the top league in Finland.

Tuohimaa played for both Jokerit (SM-liiga) and Kiekko-Vantaa (Mestis) again this year. After Hungarian Zoltán Hetényi was signed by the Nashville Predators, he was the number two goalie on the Jokerit depth chart behind just starter Eero Kilpeläinen.

Tuohimaa and Joonas Korpisalo – the third round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012 – split time between serving as the backup with Jokerit and starting for Kiekko-Vantaa. But unlike Korpisalo, Tuohimaa also got his share of starts with the big club.

The 21-year-old played in a total of 13 regular season games, posting a .912 save percentage. It was a major improvement over his .898 a year before. Tuohimaa also made his playoff debut when he replaced the struggling Kilpeläinen twice in the Quarter Final series against Lukko. He made 23 saves and had a single goal scored against him for a .960 save percentage in 78 minutes of action.

In Mestis, Tuohimaa's numbers were a bit worse than in 2011–12. Perhonen, on the other hand, improved his save percentage from the dreadful .887 to a less so .902. He still served as the backup for JYP-Akatemia, and couldn't challenge the seven-months-older Sami Rajaniemi for the starter's job. He also was the final goalie cut from the Finnish WJC squad.

Both goalies are currently free agents as their contracts expired after the 2012–13 season. Jokerit already announced extensions for some players, and as Tuohimaa wasn't among them, it is likely that he'll be moving on. It is possible that he'll join the Oilers organization to play more next year, most likely starting from the ECHL.

It seems unlikely that the Oilers would sign Perhonen at this point. The new NHL CBA allows clubs to hold on to rights of European-based prospects for up to four years, so he still has time to re-establish himself, however. The youngster has tons of raw potential, but his inability to produce any results in a semi-pro league like Mestis makes him a non-prospect at this point.

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