The Ottawa Senators were back at it, selecting goalie Leevi Meriläinen 71st overall, a pick the Sens received from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for the (newly extended) Dylan DeMelo. The Sens have made a habit of selecting a goalie in several recent drafts, with Mads Sogaard taken last year, Kevin Mandolese the year before, and Jordan Hollett in 2017. With the importance of goaltending in the NHL, it makes sense to always have a developing goalie prospect in the system.
He’s played as part of the Kärpät system in Finland for the last few years, progressing from their U16 team last year to their U20 team this past season, putting up a .942 in 19 games in the former and a .908 in 16 games in the latter. So far this season, he has a .935 save percentage and a 1.67 GAA in three games for Kärpät U20. He’s not enormous, but at 6’2”, he keeps up the NHL trend of no short goalies, with Jaroslav Halak, Juuse Saros, and Anton Khudobin as the only sub-6’ goalies to play any games last season, with all three of them at 5’11”.
It’s hard to know what exactly to make of him, because there are no scouting reports on him. He was not on Colin’s consolidated draft rankings, and with 32 goalies left on that board (including some Finnish ones), this is definitely a surprise. Considering none of those 50 draft rankings even listed him, it seems reasonable to think he would’ve been available in the 5th or 6th rounds when the Sens were up again. Like most late-round and goalie picks, we likely won’t know for four years if the Sens found a diamond in the rough, or if this was a huge swing and a miss.