The short-term exodus of European players in the AHL continues, this time with Columbus Blue Jackets goaltending prospect Veini Vehvilainen being loaned to JYP in Finland. The agreement states that Columbus can recall Vehvilainen at any point, meaning he’ll likely be back for whenever training camp opens in North America.
Vehvilainen, 23, is just another goaltending prospect in the pipeline for the Blue Jackets, who have become something of a goalie factory this season. Both Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins came out of obscurity to put up All-Star numbers in the NHL, and Vehvilainen could potentially be next in line. Selected in the sixth round in 2018, the relatively small goalie has done nothing but dominate at Finland’s highest level. In 119 regular season Liiga appearances, Vehvilainen has posted a .926 save percentage, only increasing that to .929 in his 37 postseason matches. Twice he was named Finland’s top goaltender, while also helping win World Junior and World Championship gold medals.
In his first season in the AHL, Vehvilainen posted a .901 save percentage in 33 games. He and Matiss Kivlenieks, another interesting prospect, could very well battle for the NHL backup role if the Blue Jackets decide to move one of their other talented goaltenders this summer. For an organization that watched a two-time Vezina winner walk away in free agency last summer, the crease looks to be in plenty of good hands.