Many teams in Finland’s second-highest league have signed players from the top U20 league since the end of the 2019-20 season. Therefore I decided to write a summary of the signings and loans so far. Also included are some players who already have some Mestis experience, yet they spent majority of the past season in the U20 league.
Kärpät goalie Joel Blomqvist (2002) has been loaned to Hermes. He had an excellent season and was named the best goalie in the U20 league. Joining Hermes seems like a very logical move as he will gain experience in a men’s league. Blomqvist will very likely hear his name called in this year’s NHL Draft, possibly as high as in the first few rounds.
Ketterä has signed defensemen Einari Luhanka (1999) and Jami Hänninen (2000) to one-year contracts. Both contracts include an option for an additional year.
Luhanka captained HIFK U20 in the past season and recorded 11 points (5+6) in 48 games. He’s a physical and assertive defenseman who is tough to play against. He has a good point shot and makes firm passes to start the attack from his own end. Luhanka improved each year in the U20 league and is a nice add to Ketterä.
Hänninen took on a bigger role with Jokerit U20 and tallied seven goals and 17 points in 50 games. More of a defensive defenseman, he is solid in the defensive zone and competes hard. He makes a good first pass and keeps things simple in possession. Hänninen’s long reach is an asset in stick and puck battles.
Furthermore, Juho Markkanen (2002) will play on loan with Ketterä in the upcoming season. The 6’2″ SaiPa goalie broke out at the U20’s in 2019-20. He also played his first two Mestis games and looked very good in both of them. His game has been trending upwards lately, so it will be interesting to monitor his development in Mestis.
Defenseman Saku Salminen (1999) joins TUTO. The 6’0″ blueliner spent the past three seasons with Tappara U20 and captained the team in 2019-20. Salminen plays a well-rounded game and contributes at both ends of the ice.
TUTO has also signed defensemen Manu Räty (2001), Jasper Rannisto (2000) and forward Olli Valtola (1999). Räty is a mobile right-shot defenseman who shows poise with the puck on his stick. He made his Mestis debut with TUTO in February. Rannisto is a reliable, stable two-way defenseman with good mobility and puck moving abilities. Valtola already played seven games with TUTO in the past season. He has spent most of the past two seasons with TPS U20, but has also played seven Liiga games and 16 Mestis games.
Juuso Arola (1999) and Eetu Kukka (2000) are among the newest additions to Hokki. Arola was a key defenseman for Pelicans U20 in the past two seasons. He already has some Mestis experience, having previously played nine games with Peliitat. Kukka is a physical winger who is not afraid to play rough and will finish his checks. He has a heavy wrist shot and scored a decent amount of goals in the juniors.
KOOVEE has signed forward Rasmus Rasinaho (1999). He was one of the top scorers on Tappara U20 in the last two years. Rasinaho has the offensive skills and skating ability to make an immediate impact in Mestis.
Lastly, Kiekko-Vantaa announced earlier this week that six players, including defenseman Mico Luoto (2001) and forward Rasmus Lahnaviik (2001), will play for the team on loan from Jokerit. Luoto and Lahnaviik both had strong seasons with Jokerit U20 and showed next level potential. You can read more about these two in their profiles: