2019-20 Team: SaiPa Liiga
Date of Birth: April 06, 2002
Place of Birth: Edmonton, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 146 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 NHL Draft Eligible
As you get to the later rounds of any NHL draft, you start to come across players who can be considered picks with potential. They aren’t going to be day-one starters for the franchise that selects them, and they may never even start an NHL game, but they have that something that made it worth a chance.
Oftentimes, this is the case with goaltenders who are selected in the fifth-round or later. You know going in that this player is a project, but in four or five years, they may be taking over the starting role for your AHL team and pressing your back-up for an NHL gig.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
This will likely be the case for goaltending prospect Juho Markkanen. In a deep draft year, Markkanen represents one of the many goalies who could be selected in the fifth to seventh-round that will take the long route to the NHL.
At 6-foot-2, Markkanen has the height of an NHL starter, but he has yet to fill out his frame. This hasn’t slowed his play, however, as he played in more than 30 games across various levels of Finnish hockey, including a short stint in the second-highest hockey league in the nation. He also started six international games, posting a .927 save percentage against stiff competition.
Also of importance is the fact that Markkanen’s near future is secure, as he signed a three-year extension with SaiPa of the Finnish league in March, meaning that he will have a few years to develop his game against some of the top competition in his home country. This gives whoever drafts him time to see how he is playing against men before bringing him to North America to play in the AHL.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Juho Markkanen – NHL Draft Projection
Given everything we know, Markkanen will likely be selected between the fifth to the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Draft. Projecting goaltenders is always difficult, but it is unlikely that he would go any higher than round five.
While it is possible that he could be passed over this year, it feels more likely that he would get picked up in the late seventh-round as a low-risk selection by a franchise with secure goaltending.
Second generation goaltender whose father played parts of four NHL season… Is very athletic with quick reflexes. Displays good rebound control and tracks the puck nicely. Played with a weak junior team and then was elevated to the Finnish Natural team as the February Five Nations Tourney approached. He won both games he started there.Bill Plazcek – draftsite.com
Playing three of Finland’s four games, Markkanen had the tournament’s best save percentage and goals-against average – 95.77 and 1.46, respectively.Derek O’Brien – iihf.com
Looking overseas, I was regrettably low on Finland’s Juho Markkanen (362), who has NHL bloodlines as the son of former Oilers goaltender Jussi Markkanen. Juho is 6-foot-2 and appears promising, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he got drafted and he should have been ranked up there with Lehtinen in hindsight.Larry Fisher – thehockeywriters.com
- Great puck control
- NHL-caliber size
- Played well internationally, winning U18 5 Nations with Finland
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Has yet to fill out his frame
- Lacks the strength needed to play an NHL game
If he can fill in his frame, Markkanen has the toolkit and size to be, at the very least, an AHL starter. From there, he could develop into a back-up and depending on his situation, could grow into a starting role with a franchise over the better part of the next five to eight years.
Risk 1/5, Reward 3/5
As a likely sixth to seventh-round pick, there’s no real risk to picking up Markkanen. Adding a solid goaltending prospect to any depth chart is a good thing, even if there’s a good chance he doesn’t play in the NHL.
If all goes well, the potential is there for Markkanen to start in the AHL, but that could be years down the line, which make the short-term payoff of his selection likely nothing.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.