Finns in the NHL draft
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06-18-2009, 06:07 PM
Hockey's Future Staff
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Hamilton Square
HPK and K-Reipas/Pelicans in the NHL Draft
HPK and Pelicans are similar in that neither club has had as many players selected as either the Ilves or Helsinki teams. However, of the players selected, a majority for both teams has at least appeared in an NHL game - which the larger clubs cannot say.
One-time national team coach Raimo Summanen was the first of eight players from the Lahti club to be drafted when he was taken by the Oilers in 1982 and appeared in 151 games over four seasons. A pair of defensemen, Janne Laukkanen and Toni Lydman, both later played over 400 games and goalie Karri Ramo (48 games) is entering his 3rd NHL season with Tampa Bay. Of those four, Lydman was the highest pick, being selected in the fourth round.
For HPK, Niko Kapanen, now with Carolina, has played almost 400 games after being drafted by Dallas in 1998 and former Dallas teammate Antti Miettinen, who has played 320 games, is now with the Minnesota Wild. Unlike Lahti, HPK has had two top round picks - second rounder Jarkko Varvio by the then Minnesota North Stars in 1992 and goalie Hannu Toivonen, who was the Boston Bruins' first round pick in 2002. Varvio appeared in 13 games over two seasons with Dallas before returning to Finland while Toivonen appeared to be working his way up in Boston before being traded to St. Louis and subsequently returning to Finland. In total, he appeared in 61 games.
Vili Sopanen of Pelicans was drafted in the 6th round by New Jersey in 2007 while Petteri Wirtanen of HPK was a 6th round pick of the Ducks in 2006 and appeared in three games at the end of the 2007-2008 season. He spent the entire season in the AHL this past winter but was brought up for the playoffs as one of the "Black Aces" along with Petri Kontiola.
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