The Edmonton Oilers have developed an unusual relationship with Finland over the last few years. Historically, Finns and Oilers go together like peanut butter and jam, but in the last decade or so the draft picks are few and far between. The procurement department has landed a few free agents—Lennart Petrell, Antti Tyrvainen, Jesse Joensuu—and acquired Lauri Korpikoski via trade. These men have become more infamous than famous as Oilers, although young Iiro Pakarinen is trying his best to re-establish what was once a brilliant bit of chemistry. Will this season see Edmonton use a top pick on Finland?
NHL TOTAL PLAYERS/FINISH PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2015 NHL draft—211 total players, 11 from Finland
- 2014 NHL draft—210 total players, 7 from Finland
- 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 9 from Finland
- 2012 NHL draft–211 total players, 9 from Finland
- 2011 NHL draft, 211 total players, 10 from Finland
- 2010 NHL draft 210 total players, 7 from Finland
- 2009 NHL draft, 211 total players, 7 from Finland
- 2008 NHL draft, 211 total players, 6 from Finland
- FINAL TALLY: 1,686 total players, 66 from Finland
- PERCENTAGE: 3.9%
OILERS TOTAL PLAYERS/FINLAND PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2015 NHL draft—6 total players, 0 from Finland
- 2014 NHL draft—6 total players, 0 from Finland
- 2013 NHL draft—10 total players, 0 from Finland
- 2012 NHL draft–7 total players, 0 from Finland
- 2011 NHL draft–9 total players, 2 from Finland
- 2010 NHL draft–11 total players, 0 from Finland
- 2009 NHL draft–7 total players, 1 from Finland
- 2008 NHL draft–5 total players, 1 from Finland
- FINAL TALLY: 61 total players, 4 from Finland
- PERCENTAGE: 6.55%
As you can see, since 2008 Edmonton has chosen just four Finns, and that has been greater than league average. Don’t get excited—the picks have been depth selections and the results have not been outstanding.
THE FOUR FINNS
- Teemu Hartikainen, who was my favorite in this group. Had a fine season in the KHL (54GP, 10-29-39) but he’s signed for one more year in the KHL now. He turns 26 this spring, so an NHL career appears to be a distant bell.
- Toni Rajala, who had another solid year in the SHL (52GP, 17-15-32) but did not improve his performance year over year. He is 25 now, that brilliant season in OKC is a distant bell—but I remember it.
- Samu Perhonen, played for two Sm-Liiga teams and posted save percentages of .916 and .913. Will play for yet another team this winter, not a good sign (three teams in two years) but the numbers seem fine.
- Frans Tuohimaa, who is the last Finn selected by Edmonton—and that came in 2011. It has been a drought. Played well this year in the Allsvenskan—the second tier Swedish league—and hit .913. He will be back in the Sm-Liiga this fall with SaiPa.
TOP PLAYERS FROM FINLAND, 2016 DRAFT
- W Patrik Laine, Tappara (Sm-Liiga): Power W, pushing for No. 1 spot and has reached it on at least one scouting list. WHCs could be the difference.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (Sm-Liiga): Played very well in U18s and displays a nice range of skills. Perhaps shy of the top two offensively, he is a fast man with size and skill.
- C Janne Kuokkanen, Karpat (Fin Jr). Highly skilled C, good speed. Playmaker.
- C Kasper Bjorkqvist, Blues U20 (Jr. SML). He sure scores goals a lot.
- C Henrik Borgstrom, HIFK U20 (Jr. SML). Tall thin C with skill, plus shot. Heading to U. of Denver.
- LW Sebastian Repo, Pelicans (Sm-Liiga). Nice range of skills. Underrated.
- G Veini Vehvilainen, JYP (Fin 2). 26GP, 2.04 .925. Re-entry.
- C Otto Makinen, Tappara U20 (Jr. SML). Tall C with two way skills, could spike at the draft.
- G Niilo Halonen, Jokerit U20 (Jr. SML). Phenomenal numbers.
- L Mikko Juusola, Kalpa (Jr. SML). Speed winger with skill.
- D Tarmo Reunanen, TPS U20 (Jr. SML). Undersized puck mover.
- R Eetu Tuulola, HPK U20 (Jr. SML). Massive winger (6.03, 225) with some offense.
- C Aapeli Rasanen, Tappara U20 (Jr. SML). A fine prospect, good size and skill. Smart.
- C Joona Koppanen, Ilves U20 (Jr. SML). Huge (6.05) has two-way skills, a little shy offensively.
- R Otto Koivula, Ilves U20 (Jr. SML). Big W (6.04, 220) with great hands. Skating the issue.
- R Markus Nurmi, TPS Turku U20 (Jr. SML). Rangy winger with a good shot, he is tall, thin and probably a long way from what he will become.
- C Antti Kalapudas, Karpat (Sm-Liiga). Terrific skill, doesn’t play enough in the Sm-Liiga.
- D Niclas Almari, Blues U20 (Jr. SML). He can skate well, some chaos. Long range prospect.
- F Juha Jääskä, HIFK (Jr. SML). Can skate very well, may be shy offensively.