Finns in the NHL draft
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06-18-2009, 05:45 PM
Hockey's Future Staff
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Hamilton Square
JyP and Espoo in the Draft
I put these two together because the histories are very similar - and also because highly regarded forward Joonas Nattinen spent his junior days with JyP before playing in Espoo this past winter.
Of the two clubs, the story in the draft has been rather bleak - with the notable exception of two players from Espoo - forwards Juha Ylonen and Jere Lehtinen. Other than Ylonen (341 games) and Lehtinen (817 games) who were selected in the 1991 and 1992 drafts respectively, none of the other thirty or so players drafted from the two clubs have yet appeared in more than a handful of NHL games.
In fairness, very few of those players were high round picks - with the notable exception of a pair of first rounders - JyP goalie Ari Ahonen, drafted by New Jersey in 1999 in hopes that he would be the eventual successor to Martin Brodeur but never able to make it above the AHL level, and forward Lauri Tukonen, drafted in 2004 by the Kings but only to crack the lineup five times in two seasons before returning to Finland.
Just one JyP draftee thus far has made it to the NHL, defenseman Tuomas Pihlman, who appeared in fifteen games for New Jersey.
In addition to Ylonen and Lehtinen, Espoo defenseman Kari Haakana played 13 games for the Oilers in 2002-2003 and forward Mikko Lehtonen made his NHL debut in one game for the Bruins this past season.
JyP has not had a player selected since 2004 while Jani Lajunen of Espoo was slected by Nashville in the seventh round last year.
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