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NHL Draft Profile: Veini Vehviläinen (JYP, Finland, G) - Tuukka Mark Two?

Veini Vehviläinen is, like most Finns, not one to make a fuss. But the NHL should be. Here's the lowdown on a hidden gem - one of the heirs to Tuukka Rask's throne.

Jiri Halttunen

If you were watching Finland's epic run to the World Juniors title this season or indeed their charge to the silver medal last season, you'll already be aware of Veini Vehviläinen.

The 19-year-old from Jyväskylä is one of Finland and indeed Europe's brightest prospects between the pipes, currently ranked 3rd in EU draft-eligible goalies by NHL scouting. He's a 6'1, 183lb netminder who's quietly making something of a name for himself and has a point to prove to not just Finland but every team in the NHL too.

That's because he's already been through the NHL draft once, as an 18-year-old, and was passed over by every single team, with every one of their picks, surprising European hockey observers.

Vehviläinen bounced back this year, though, playing his way into the top 5 goalies in the Finnish Liiga with a save percentage of 92.5 and a GAA of 2.04 in 28 games as backup, outperforming the far more experienced starter Tuomas Tarkki by some considerable distance.

Then, of course, there was the Finnish WJC. Vehviläinen was considered the backup on the championship team, but still played solidly through the group games, claiming a shutout against relegated Belarus in his first start and leading the Finns to a group win before the Lions elected to go with already-drafted and more experienced Kaapo Kähkönen for the elimination games. He had come to the hockey world's attention the year before, though, with a truly stellar performance in the world u18 championships as the starter (1.65 GAA in 7 games)

So...what are Vehviläinen's strengths?

It's hard to really rank goalies - they are tremendously unpredictable in their development, with years needing to be committed to them before any fruit is really borne (well, unless they're truly superstars, which don't come along that often). After all....remember that Tuukka Rask was considered not good enough by Toronto...and the rest is Boston history.

What is clear about Vehviläinen, though, is that he is a calm, solid presence in net even at a young age. At 6'1 and 183lbs he's not a big goalie, which would seem to go against the NHL trend. What he is is agile, strong positionally and capable of saves like this:

That is a highlight-reel save from an experienced NHL netminder, never mind an 18-year-old.

Vehviläinen is strong in lateral movement, solid positionally already and has a fast glove-hand...skills that have already seen him playing in the Finnish Mestis first of all and then the Finnish Liiga (posting a 30-save-shutout in his first Liiga start, no less). He has recently signed a 3-year contract with JYP and has the potential to become their starter sooner rather than later, which is a heck of a way to develop over the next few years at almost minimum risk to the team that drafts him. Don't forget, after all, that Finland is also the league Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask were plucked from by the Bruins...they have history of finding gems in that part of the world. That alone is an argument for at least considering adding him to the stable of puck-stoppers.

Vehviläinen is not a superstar prospect. He's not a player who will be taken in the early rounds, most likely - after all, the NHL scouts will likely be far more aware of names like Carter Hart and Evan Fitzpatrick in net from NA and Filip Gustavsson and Daniel Marmenlind in Europe. He is also a long-term investment, rather than an impact or showy pick.

What he is, though, is a very, very good long-term prospect. In a Bruins system that is perhaps a little light in net, he is a potential gem that can be had relatively late in the draft, for very little risk, with a development path already mapped out.

That, especially given the B's history with Finnish netminders, has to make him worth a took in the later rounds.