Kaapo Kähkönen THW Close-Up:
Team: Blues U20 – Jr. A SM-liiga
Date of Birth: 08/16/1996
Place of Birth: Helsinki, Finland
Ht: 6’ 1.5″ Wt: 209 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2014
THW Ranking: 86
CSS (International Goalies): 4
Future Considerations: N/R
Craig Button: 77
*Check out THW’s 2014 NHL Draft Guide, your quintessential draft resource
Singing The Blues
Ever since the 2011-2012 hockey season, Kaapo Kähkönen has been progressing through the Finnish developmental hockey leagues. Playing as a member of the U16, U18, and U20 Espoo Blues, Kähkönen seems to be slated to join the SM-liiga next year as his developmental process in the junior system looks to be coming to a close.
While Kähkönen’s prowess in the Finnish developmental leagues has gone along at a smooth pace, his accomplishments carry a tad bit more weight to them as the netminder will be among the youngest available at this year’s draft. Of course, many might say that age is but a number, but looking at Kähkönen’s resume it is plain to see that the goaltender has had his fair share of experience both in the developmental leagues as well as on the international stage.
Appearing in a plethora of U16, U17, and U18 international tournaments as a representative of Team Finland, Kähkönen is no stranger to being in the spotlight and playing for national pride. Not only has Kähkönen been appearing in international tournaments since the ’11-’12 hockey season (Youth Olympic Games), he has oftentimes been excelling in them – and has sometimes not had the benefit of the strongest Finnish team playing in front of him.
However, regardless of the product that has been put in front of Kähkönen, the goaltender has constantly risen to the occasion when pressured. When facing more shots and a heavy workload, Kähkönen shines his brightest as he seemingly relishes the opportunity to be more active in his crease.
Standing at 6′ 1.5″, Kähkönen definitely has the size that NHL teams covet, and there is certainly room for the Finnish netminder to fill out his frame a bit more as he is most likely not done growing yet. For one of the younger goalies (comparatively speaking) available in this draft, Kähkönen sure doesn’t lack for competitiveness, athleticism, or technique. With an impending promotion to the SM-liiga, Kähkönen has already shown the Espoo Blues what kind of level he is capable of playing in Finland and its developmental leagues, and he shouldn’t have any problem getting a fair amount of interest and attention for the upcoming NHL Draft.
“Kähkönen comes out of his crease, challenging shooters and making great use of his size to take away the available space in the net. He plays a hybrid style, with quite a bit of butterfly thrown in. Kähkönen transitions quickly especially when he goes down to make a save and pops right back up to be in position for the next one, showing tremendous athleticism. His glove and blocker are excellent. He holds them tight to the body reducing the under the arm goals, but is able to flash them out quickly to protect the top portion of the net. His legs are extremely quick and he is tough to beat down low. The great athleticism and side-to-side movement are apparent facing cross-crease passes, wraparounds, and dekes. Kähkönen is extremely good in his rebound control for a 17-year-old. This is often an area that young goalies struggle in, and while he will still need to keep improving before being ready for the NHL game, he is well ahead of where most of his peers are at the same age. He shows a quick stick for poke checks and for protecting the front of his net from back door passes. He also shows the ability to come out of his net and handle the puck, working as a third defenseman for his team. This can be improved as well, but he’s already at a better level than most of the other European goaltenders in the class.”
– Ben Kerr via LastWordOnSports.com
“Finnish ‘tender with decent size and agility. Has good quickness post to post.”
– Bill Placzek via DraftSite.com
“A big reason Finland won that Youth Olympic gold was Kähkönen, who earned a 1.90 goals-against average in four appearances. He also stuffed two Russian forwards in the shootout in the gold-medal game. Based on the very little I’ve seen, he looks to be a high-end goaltending prospect with decent size and athleticism. He put up good numbers last season and is already doing well as a 16-year-old at the U20 level in Finland.”
– Chris Peters via UnitedStatesOfHockey.com
“The only Finnish goalie on Central Scouting’s 2014 Watch List, Kahkonen has already shown his mettle at the Ivan Hlinka, staring down Team USA in the overtime opener. Back home, he guided the Blues to the junior final, recording a 2.43 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in the regular season. Draft eligible in 2014.”
– Ryan Kennedy via TheHockeyNews.com
Where He’ll End Up In June:
Kähkönen will likely be drafted during the mid-to-late stages of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft as goalies such as Jonas Johansson might be taken ahead of him.
Kähkönen has competed in a variety of international tournaments from the Youth Olympic Games to the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. The Finnish netminder is no stranger to the international stage as he has been appearing in a number of U16, U17, and U18 tournaments for Finland since the 2011-2012 hockey season.
- 3-5 Years
- Risk: 2/5 Reward: 3.5-4/5
- Number one starting goaltender.
- Rebound control.
- Lateral movements.
- Good size.
- Challenges shooters.
- Very good glove and blocker.
- Relishes heavier workload.
Flaws/Aspects He Needs to Work On:
- Could fill out his frame a bit more.
- Goaltending: 8.5-9/10
- No definitive NHL goalie comparison to Kähkönen.