On Friday, the Oilers announced that they had signed 2011 seventh round draft pick Frans Tuohimaa to a two-year entry-level contract. Tuohimaa becomes the seventh member of the Oilers’ 2011 draft class either signed to an entry-level deal or traded for a player (Tobias Rieder for Kale Kessy) who was.
Since Draft Day
Tuohimaa was an over-ager when the Oilers drafted him. He had run up some crooked numbers as a 19-year old in Finland’s top junior league; that 0.931 save percentage in 2010-11 was matched by a 0.930 save percentage over seven playoff games.
In the two years since, Tuohimaa has turned into a pretty decent goalie in Finland, both for Jokerit in the top league and for Kiekko-Vantaa in the second league. Last season’s 0.912 save percentage in the top league isn’t world-beating stuff, but given Tuohimaa’s age it’s certainly enough to indicate there might be a player there.
The Oilers’ Goaltending Depth
I mentioned Tuohimaa in passing last weekend when the Oilers signed fellow 2011 draftee Martin Gernat:
Of the goaltenders, [Samu] Perhonen was seen as a possible steal on draft day but has not developed, and given his performance in the second-tier Finnish league this year it wouldn’t be a big surprise if the Oilers decide not to ink him to a contract. Tuohimaa has rounded into a fairly competent Finnish league backup at the age of 21; based on his performance I wouldn’t be surprised if the Oilers chose to let him go and I wouldn’t be surprised if they chose to keep him (particularly with the slow development of Olivier Roy and the total implosion of Tyler Bunz at the professional level).
As of yet there is no indication whether Tuohimaa will be coming over from Europe immediately; he just signed a two-year deal with HPK in the top Finnish league. If he does, I would guess that he’s bound for the ECHL, at least to start, with the Oilers minor-league system looking like this:
- AHL Starter: Veteran number three goaltender (possibly Yann Danis, possibly an external candidate)
- AHL Backup: Olivier Roy
- ECHL 1A: Frans Tuohimaa
- ECHL 1B: Tyler Bunz
Things can change in a hurry – Bunz was an exceptional WHL goaltender and could improve quickly, the Oilers could decide to roll the dice with Roy as the AHL starter if they bring in a highly capable 1A/1B type to push Dubnyk in the NHL, a trade could be made, etc. – but that’s likely how things stand today in terms of NHL readiness. Bunz has dug himself a significant hole with his first professional campaign, and Olivier Roy failed to build upon an impressive professional debut last season; a good goaltending prospect could probably leave both in the dust quickly with a strong performance.
Another unknown is the organization’s view of Samu Perhonen. The new CBA between the NHL and the NHLPA gives teams four years to sign European players drafted at age 18 or 19, meaning that Perhonen remains the Oilers’ property even if they don’t sign him. It seems likely he’ll stay in Europe until he has some success.
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