From Start to Finnish

Justin Goldman




Eat your heart out, Garth Snow. Just as you were a big brute between the pipes, so too shall be the goalies you draft. You surprised me by taking a huge Finnish goalie to start the second day of the NHL Entry Draft, but I was not surprised to see the day end with another hulking Finnish goaltender, Petteri Simila, being chosen at #211.


The pick at #211 is an interesting one for a couple of reasons. First of all, this final pick was actually traded for. Yes, the Montreal Canadiens made a deal with the Penguins to secure the lowest pick possible in the Draft. This was done partially in homage to the local fans, but partially because of the potential they saw in Simila. Secondly, the number 211 is the rare result of a compensatory pick given to the Rangers due to the death of Alexei Cherepanov.

Simila, who is listed at 6-foot-6, an inch taller than Koskinen, is quickly becoming known for his similarities to the Vantaa Vulture. Little has been documented on his play other than the obvious statistics and recognition of his size, but reports are saying that he moves well laterally, displays a lot of poise for his age and recovers quickly from the butterfly. So even though nobody uttered Simila’s name over the last three months, come draft day, he had instant appeal due to the fact he was just another massive Finnish goaltender.

(For Karma, name two other current NHL players that were chosen last in the NHL Entry Draft.)

Ultimately, you can thank Snow for viciously reinforcing the trend of drafting the bigger goalies sooner rather than later. His bold statement to take Koskinen to start the second round and Anders Nilsson to start the third round was not only a shock (considering the other goalies available), but also because Rick DiPietro is signed until 2020. When all was said and done, Snow’s bold moves reinforced the culture of drafting behemoth goalies for another year.

I could debate endlessly whether or not Snow should have snagged Koskinen in a later round, thus adding another quality skater to the organization, but it’s already a moot point. The Islanders have reportedly passed on offering Peter Mannino a qualifying offer, which leaves the door wide open for Snow to bring Koskinen over to North America and have him battle it out with Nathan Lawson in Bridgeport. Lawson actually signed an NHL contract in early-March, which brings him closer to playing for the Islanders, but a shoulder injury has hampered his progress just a little bit.

Overall, these moves might make Snow look like a goalie prospect tyrant to some fans. But honestly, this is one of those instantaneous “all or nothing” situations. Many times I’ve mentioned that a Finnish goalie benefits greatly from playing i