Many people must have been surprised when promising goaltender prospect Veini Vehviläinen went undrafted this June. On the other hand, Dallas Stars took Markus Ruusu in the sixth round, who’s a less known goalie. Here I’ll share my thoughts on these goalies and my assumption on why NHL teams preferred Ruusu over Vehviläinen.
Veini Vehviläinen is a goaltender who I liked in many viewings this past season. He played for JYP U20 team and posted a shotout in the game I saw at the start of the year. He displayed a quick glove hand and a calm demeanor in the crease. Vehviläinen also played for JYP-Akatemia in Mestis and was solid from what I was able to see. Many will remember his excellent game at the U18 World Championships finals, where he made 60 saves in a 2-1 loss to USA. I had him ranked in mid-third round in Future Considerations final rankings.
Markus Ruusu is certainly not as well known prospect as Vehviläinen. A big reason for this must be the fact that he played last season in the U18 league. However, I saw him twice live and some other games via stream. He was clearly a top prospect on JYP U18. The 6’2 stopper made some really good saves, using his atheticism and quick post-to-post movement to deny shooters. He was a key reason for JYP U18’s solid season, which eventually ended in quarterfinals. Dallas Stars took another player from Finnish U18 league as they also selected big defensive defenseman Miro Karjalainen the year before.
I have to believe one of the reasons for Vehviläinen going undrafted is his size. For a today’s goalie, he’s rather small at 6’1. For example, in this year’s draft there were drafted just two goalies who are under 6’2 – Luke Opilka (6’1) and Erik Kallgren (5’11). You have to be really good to be drafted as a smaller goalie, and although I like Vehviläinen’s upside, I wouldn’t consider him a potential star goalie in the NHL. However, I was personally pretty surprised that no one was willing to use even a seventh rounder on him. I’m sure Vehviläinen will have a good chance to be drafted in his second year of eligibility.