Don't look now, but the goalie factory known as Finland has just churned out another quality fantasy prospect. Meet Jussi Rynnas, the second European goalie to attract attention from a number of NHL teams and ultimately choose to start their pro hockey career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rynnas, who turns 23 on Saturday and is a monster in his own right, just completed a breakout rookie season in the SM-Liiga with Assat Pori. In 31 games for one of the league's weakest teams, he posted a brilliant 2.50 goals-against average and a league-high .929 save percentage.
Listed at 6-foot-4 (6'5" in some places), Rynnas' basic stance has the solid foundation of a cement truck with nitrous boosters. He has an extremely wide stance that allows him appear even bigger in the net, but NHL-level quickness. In fact, if you compared his stance to all current NHL goalies, his would be the widest. Rynnas still has the mobility of a raw-skilled Finn, but similar to Antti Niemi, if given the opportunity, he could easily win games at the NHL level.
Moving forward, fantasy managers should consider Rynnas as a legitimate long-term keeper with great talent and a clear path of opportunities set before him. This is thanks in large part to Brian Burke's ability to harvest hidden gems and turn them into stars. I expect that Rynnas won't just challenge James Reimer for ice time with the Marlies next season, but will end up playing more games. Combined with his skill, Rynnas is a hard-working individual with a fierce, competitive edge to his game. Most over-sized goalies are considered a bit passive, but Rynnas is active and agile.
It was back in January that I started hearing rumors about NHL teams interested in his services. Because I was slightly familiar with his history in the junior ranks, I knew the rumors had some backing to them. Starting with the 2005-06 season, Rynnas played 30, 23 and then 39 games with Assat's Junior-A team. His skill level and confidence slowly increased over those three seasons, which ultimately put him on the short list for at least 10-12 NHL scouts. Rynnas finally notched a spot on our Top-100 Rankings back in February, and has been rising ever since. By the time next season begins, he could be nestled very nicely in the Top-50.
School of Block is all about making quality fantasy goalie decisions. For fantasy managers, the more you are able to understand the goaltending position, the better your results will be against your competitors. Here at DobberHockey and The Goalie Guild, we b