The Edmonton Oilers made a player move today, and its impact on the organization has several implications. Huge (6.06, 216) Finn goaltender Niko Hovinen was plucked off waivers and then assigned to the OKC Barons. Hovinen was a Minnesota Wild draft pick in 2006 (5th round, one slot ahead of Oilers selection Bryan Pitton) who had a couple of terrific seasons in Finland’s SM-Liiga (he played for the Pelicans–Lathi, he’s in blue above–and posted SP’s of .914, .921 and .920) before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers in May of 2011.

That September, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren framed the signing this way:

  • Holmgren: “It’s pretty common for goalies, especially a real big kid like Hovinen, to take a little longer to mature, both physically and mentally. There’s a learning curve they all go through, and some players need more time than others. It’s pretty much one step at a time for most of these guys.”

In the past, Hovinen gave great credit to Pelicans goalie coach Pasi Nurminen for progress, and one expects Oilers goaltending consultant Frédéric Chabot will spend plenty of time with him. Since joining the Oilers in July 2009, the Oilers have acquired:

  1. Tyler Bunz, 2010 entry draft
  2. Samu Perhonen, 2011 entry draft
  3. Frans Tuohimaa, 2011 entry draft

And on the pro level, they’ve added the following since Chabot arrived:

  1. Yann Danis, free agent signing July 4, 2011



Olivier Roy, OKC Barons (Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

The Oilers organizational depth chart might look like this today:

  1. Devan Dubnyk
  2. Yann Danis
  3. Nikolai Khabibulin
  4. Olivier Roy
  5. Niko Hovinen
  6. Tyler Bunz
  7. Frans Tuohimaa (SM-Liiga, Finland’s top pro league)
  8. Samu Perhonen (Finland-2)


  • Nikolai Khabibulin is some way from returning, and or the Oilers aren’t confident in his ability to stay healthy. If the club activates NK and sends Danis down, they risk waivers on the only real candidate for backup duty (aside from Nikolai Khabibulin).
  • Tyler Bunz hasn’t played yet at the AHL level; his .878SP in the ECHL suggests that may be a good idea. Today’s move makes it possible for the Oilers to send Bunz back to Lodi.
  • I always wonder about who impacts the goalie choices for an NHL organization. Since Chabot arrived, the Oilers have drafted three goalies–one from the WHL and two from Finland–and based on Chabot’s background his ability to acquire a good scouting report on Hovinen and then make a recommendation about him would seem to be a given.
  • I like this kind of pickup–very low risk, and a very nice possible return–and am pleased the organization is addressing need. On the heels of the Fistric acquisition I believe that we should expect the organization to be more active and aggressive than they were before MacT arrived in a management capacity. Whether that was Steve Tambellini’s plan all along, whether in means Kevin Lowe is more likely to acquire now that the rebuild has turned a corner, I do not know. I can say there’s a change in the weather.

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  1. hunter1909 says:

    Since Dubnyk took years to develop, and as the big slob seems to be coming around; from an Acey-Ducey player’s pov it looks like they’re splitting on a Dubnyk clone.

    It’s basically like taking a free bet against the House.

    There must be someone with a cooler head than Kevin Lowe on that management team.

  2. hunter1909 says:

    Kevin Lowe I equate to Dr. Frankenstein, btw. Both men fairly brilliant in their way, while possessing a fatal flaw which leaves both with this tendency to invoke various uncontrollable monsters.

  3. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Harmless move that adds depth down stream… but I am curious if they are done at G…

    Nik is still a huge ?

    Danis probably doesn’t have mgts. complete confidence at NHL level

    the kids seems to be flailing at pro-level a bit.

    does this move make a Bishop (or Bishop-like) deal more or less likely?

  4. coolwasabi says:

    We still need an NHL backup.
    Khabibulin is injured when he’s injured and horrible when he’s “healthy”.
    Danis is “probably” a competent NHL-backup, but I’m not comfortable having a tandem of a “probably” NHL-starter in Dubnyk and a “probably” NHL-backup in Danis.

  5. FPB94 says:

    I guess Pekka Rinne being an insanely good goaltender now (and only becoming a regular at 25) made some teams think about procuring giants with good track records.

  6. stevezie says:

    I think this move definitely shows that the plan is to keep Danis up for awhile. If Danis were to go back down then the AHL would be secure- I guess it is possibe the new guy could split time with Bunz in the ECHL but I would think giving Bunz starts would be a priority, non?
    Am I misreading the situation? It looks like Hova’s job is going to be to split things with Roy- his track record shows he is up to that, right?
    The Bishop trade is still easily possible, we can just bury the unfortunate Finn, but I think this shows it is no longer a top priority as Danis is moving some stuff into his hotel room. Danis could also easily go the other way along with the draft pick that gets us our reliable backup. After last night I think Duby might be given another week to tell management how much we might need a backup.

    I think Nik is the world’s most expensive interpreter right now.

  7. speeds says:

    This move also indicates the Oilers may not think too huighly of at least one of Perhonen/Tuohimaa – both have to be signed this summer or they go back into the draft (unless the 4 years of rights to Euro draftees will apply retroactively to both goalies?)

    At least, I think, as I understand Russians see their rights held longer with no transfer agreement, I guess I’m not sure on the other Euro countries at the moment.

  8. raventalon40 says:


    That description about Chabot talks about how he used to play with Nikolai Khabibulin. I can find no evidence of this.

  9. Lowetide says:

    It says shared award, MVP. They were not teammates, but rather in the same league and shared the top award.


  10. raventalon40 says:


    Oh, I see now.

  11. Bushed says:

    I was puzzled by this move until Lowetide posted the pic up top. Now it all makes sense.

    Tambo has obviously addressed the lack of grit issue by signing an enforcer goalie, who can fight at least three times a game before getting tossed; some smurf can serve the 10 for the first two altercations. That way, an enforcer is always out there.

    I take back everything I said about you, Tambo–your brilliance continues to elude us. The league will now be forced to make another “oiler rule” to counteract our new-found advantage!

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