Columbus Blue Jackets Draft Profile: Veini Vehvilainen

With their 6th round pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets added to their goalie corps by drafting Veini Vehvilainen.

Thank goodness I don’t have to properly pronounce the name of the newest member of the Columbus Blue Jackets goalie corps anytime soon. The Finnish goalie has quite a mouthful of a name and quite a decorated career thus far.

Veini Vehvilainen was the only overage player the CBJ took in this season’s draft. The goalie is 21-years-old and has spent the last three seasons in Liiga in Finland. The netminder has grown to become the top goalie in the entire league.

Last season Vehvilainen won the Urpo Ylonen Award as the leagues top goalie. His .925 save percentage topped the league along with his 1.89 goals against average. Vehvilainen’s stellar performance helped lead his squad, Karpat, to the league title.

Veini had been catching the eyes of scouts well before that. In the 2017 World Junior Championship, Vehvilainen led the entire tournament in save percentage and goals against average for Team Finland.

But Veini had been passed over in previous drafts due to his size. Today’s prototypical NHL goalie stands around 6’3″. Vehvilainen barley cracks the six foot mark. He has shown great progression in the last few season’s though and will hopefully be one of the best goalies in Europe again this season.

CBJ Goalie Pipeline

This is the second straight year the Columbus Blue Jackets have drafted a European goalie. Last season it was Danill Tarasov in the third round, and now Vehvilainen. They also were able to sign Matiss Kivlenieks, another promising goalie, last season.

With all of these additions the organization depth chart is starting to get a bit lengthy.

  1. Sergei Bobrovsky
  2. Joonas Korpisalo
  3. Jean-Francois Berube
  4. Matiss Kivlenieks
  5. Elvis Merzlikins
  6. Daniil Tarasov
  7. Peter Thome
  8. Veini Vehvilainen

Merzlikins is highly regarded but will spend next year in Switzerland. Tarasov will need another two years at least in Russia. Peter Thome will play out his time at North Dakota and Matiss needs at least another year in Cleveland.

But the organization is on very solid ground in the goalie department with this draft pick. They are building for a future without Sergei Bobrovsky from top to bottom. Without Bob, the Jackets would look toward Korpisalo as their next starter and likely have Kivlenieks or Merzlikins as his back up. That would then allow a Vehvilainen or Thome to move up to Cleveland and continue their growth without sacrificing talent between the pipes.

This low risk pick should yield, at worst, an average AHL goalie with upside to be a contributor at the NHL level. Veini Vehvilainen is still young for a goalie and could continue his upward trajectory. The 6th round pick has a chance of being a Blue Jacket but the competition will be fierce with so many good goalies already in the system.