The 2022-23 NHL preseason is underway, and Ville Petman is one of the Seattle Kraken prospects who is looking to stand out from the pack. They signed the Finnish forward back in June, and he’ll likely be joining their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
The 5-foot-10, 181-pound winger is coming off a career year with SaiPa Lappeenranta of the Liiga. He went undrafted, and at 22 years old becomes one of the organization’s older prospects. Let’s take a deeper dive.
Petman’s Pre-Kraken Career
Petman had played almost exclusively in the Finnish Liiga since the 2018-19 season when he first took the ice for Lukko Rauma, playing 14 games and tallying three assists. He jumped to 40 games for the 2019-20 season, scoring two goals and eight points. During the season, he suited up to represent Finland in the 2020 World Junior Championship, though it didn’t go as he may have hoped; in seven games he scored just one goal.
The 2020-21 season saw continued offensive struggles for Petman. He joined SaiPa Lappeenranta, and in his 40 games, he scored just two points. To make matters worse, his plus/minus was a career-worst at minus-10. This past season, that then dropped to a minus-18. However, to be fair, the team as a whole really struggled. Despite this, things started to look up for him.
Petman scored 15 goals, 24 assists, and 39 points in 59 games. To me, that sounds like an explosion given his performance to that point in his career, as he tripled his production from his previous three Liiga seasons in just one season. He not only set career highs in all four of those categories, but he led the team in goals, assists, points, power-play goals with seven, and all forwards with an 18:58 average time on ice (ATOI). Here’s a stat I like: he also tied for the team lead with three game-winning goals.
Where Petman Fits With the Kraken
This is a tough one to answer, both due to the Kraken’s current forward depth, and some of the prospects alongside him in the pipeline. In terms of the big club, they have brought in enough forwards to where at least one familiar face from their inaugural season will be a healthy scratch come opening night.
Another factor will be that Petman has to adjust to the pace of play in North America. That’s a major reason why I think time with the Firebirds will be invaluable for him. I’m going to use New York Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko as an example of a young, European player who was rushed into NHL action. He played in the Liiga before being drafted second-overall in 2019 and jumped straight to the NHL. Over three seasons, he has yet to live up to that potential. That’s something that the Kraken should absolutely look to avoid, not just for Petman, but any European-drafted prospect they have in their system.
To be clear, Petman’s not making the Kraken out of camp. However, he should be looked at as someone who can take the time he needs and develop properly. If he can find and establish offensive consistency, he could turn into a bottom-six option with some scoring ability for the Kraken down the line. While there are several players on the Firebirds who could see themselves called up due to injuries, it’s unlikely that he’d be the one to get the call. Anything is possible, but unless he blows the coaching staff and front office out of the water, I highly doubt he’ll see NHL ice for the Kraken this season.
Was Signing Petman a Hit or a Miss?
General manager Ron Francis hit on this signing for a couple of reasons. One is that he signed a player who is trending upward and is still young. Joining the Firebirds can give him an opportunity to learn at a good pace while being able to earn more responsibility if his play adapts quickly to North America and the AHL.
Even if Petman does start to hit his potential at the AHL level, Francis could always look to move him in a trade. The Kraken have 11 draft picks so far in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, and whether it’s a one-for-one trade or he’s part of a package, he could be flipped to bring in more assets. Given that there are a handful of players ahead of him on the depth chart, it may not be the worst option for the Kraken to entertain.
What have I said time after time in articles like this? Low-risk, high-reward. There’s really no downside to this signing, at least none that I can see. We’ll see how things go as the preseason and training camp keep moving forward, but I think we should get used to seeing “Petman” on the back of a Firebirds jersey for the foreseeable future.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.