Finland is very well-known for its goalie factory which has produced plenty of excellent netminders to the NHL level. 12 Finnish goalies have been drafted to the NHL in the 2010s and 35 goalies since the 2000 NHL Draft. But what does the future look like? Next I will take a look at two 1999 born goalies, as well as one 2000 who had a great 2015-16 season.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (99)
Luukkonen had excellent playoffs for HPK U20 and also really solid U18 World Championship tournament. He has really good size at 6’4 but doesn’t rely on it too much and has good reflexes. He’s got the athletic ability to make some very impressive saves. His movements are fluid and he handles the puck confidently outside the crease. Able to also track pucks through traffic effectively. His development is definitely trending upwards and if he’s able to keep improving next season, he could get drafted quite early in 2017 NHL Draft. Luukkonen already has a contract with HPK’s Liiga team for the next three seasons.
Lassi Lehtinen (99)
Lehtinen is a very impressive goalie who in my opinion was by far the best goalie in the Finnish U18 league this past season. His reading of the play and calm demeanor make his saves look easy – he’s rarely in a bad position. He’s also quick, possessing strong lateral quickness and post to post movement. His rebound control was also good when I saw him play for Lukko U18. However, he doesn’t have the prototypical size of today’s goalie (5’9), though he might be a tad taller than listed at.
Henrik Tikkanen (00)
I wrote the following piece about Tikkanen two months ago when evaluating the season’s best prospects in the Finnish U16 league. Tikkanen also played two solid games for the national team at the U16 Four Nations in April. He’ll play for HIFK U18 next season.
“Tikkanen actually played for HJK before HIFK started to have some injuries and thus he got a chance to play in the U16 league. The 6’3 goalie has been stellar with save percentage of .954. He covers a ton of the net and moves well for his size. He doesn’t make many unneccessary movements and knows when to challenge shooters more aggressively. Tikkanen is able to make some great acrobatic reaction saves and has a quick glove-hand. A goalie that doesn’t quit on any play, he has plenty of untapped potential with his size, mobility and athleticism.”