The Nashville Predators have added a player to their goaltending pipeline, signing undrafted free agent Niclas Westerholm to a three-year entry-level contract. Westerholm played this season in Finland, where he made his professional debut with SaiPa.
Westerholm, 20, actually already has a bit of experience playing in North America after spending the 2015-16 season playing for a Minnesota high school. The 6’4″ goaltender had a great season in the junior Finnish league, posting a .926 save percentage through 28 games.
If there is anyone who can find an unknown Finnish goaltender and turn him into a star, it’s the Predators. In 2004, Nashville famously drafted Pekka Rinne in the eighth round despite seeing him only in warm ups and practice, as he was the backup goaltender for his club team in Finland. Rinne would turn out to be the best goaltender in franchise history, and continues to be a huge part of their team to this day. Though that’s not expected of Westerholm, he’ll definitely be someone to keep an eye on over the next few years.