Finnish Scorer NHL Bound?

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Juhamatti Aaltonen was a ninth round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues back in 2003 after scoring 19 goals in 33 games of junior hockey in Finland.  Aaltonen was a smallish forward with suspect defensive play but intriguing offensive skills, so the Blues gambled a late pick on him maybe developing into something more.

 

Unfortunately for St. Louis, it didn’t happen all that quickly.  Aaltonen put up some decent totals in junior but didn’t score all that much in the Finnish men’s league, and the Blues ultimately made the choice to let him go, a choice which was perfectly defensible at the time.

 

Now, however, Aaltonen appears to be of some interest to NHL clubs.  In the last five seasons, he’s scored between nine and 13 goals every year – until this season, when he scored 28 goals, a figure which tied for the lead in the SM-liiga.  According to reports out of Finland, that output has attracted the attention of teams in the KHL and at least one NHL franchise.

 

Given Aaltonen’s track record; I have my doubts that he’ll get a one-way deal.  As impressive as this season was, it is not typical for the player and a team signing him is gambling that he won’t regress.  That said, it doesn’t cost anything but money to bring him to training camp, and as long as he’s willing to sign a two-way deal he’ is a risk worth taking.