Tomorrow the Dallas Stars will welcome Finnish unsigned prospect goaltender Jussi Rynnas to the Dallas/Fort Worth area for a tour of the teams facilities, and to give him their best pitch. It's a pitch they've given several times in recent years to other European free agents, particularly Fabian Brunnstrom and Jonas Gustavsson.
As we've found out already, the "unsigned-late-bloomer" game can be a little bit of a gamble, to say the least.
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Stars do have the attention of the young man, but is unsure at this point how many others in the league will be getting visits. For whatever reason, and to their credit, the Stars always seem to be on these players lists at least.
He's a big goaltender (6'5") and 23 years old. His team didn't make the playoffs in the Finnish Elite League, and he's considered to be more "raw" than Gustavsson last summer. Still, with Matt Climie at 27 years of age and Brent Krahn turning 28 on Friday, getting younger at the position wouldn't be a bad idea.
Unlike Gustavsson, Rynnas doesn't seem to be married to the idea of getting NHL minutes right away, so there's a possibility you could send him to the AHL and still be in the hunt for a proper backup to Lehtonen.
"Les (Jackson) and all of our European scouts are very impressed, so we'll show himn around and give him the full tour, and we'll find out about each other,'' Nieuwendyk said of the one-day visit."
After the jump, see the list of teams already lining up for the services of the young man...
And here's a roundup of literature from around the hockey world on NHL teams thinking of courting the big Finn:
EUROPEAN ROUTE: The Flyers are one of many NHL teams interested in signing Jussi Rynnas, an intriguing 6-foot-3, 23-year-old goalie with Assat of the Finnish Elite. Rynnas had a strong season last year but has struggled recently and the Flyers are wary of getting into a bidding war for the unproven netminder.
Advice: Rynnas has tremendous potential, and if the price is right he's worth the risk. But the Flyers cannot afford to overpay a goalie who has not played in North America.
You know Philly, we had a goaltender available at the....Ah forget it.
One possibility is Finnish free agent Jussi Rynnas (pictured), a Gustavssson-like goalie who is 6-foot-5 and plays for Assat Pori. Rynnas, 22, is more raw at this point than Gustavsson was, but he might be a player the Leafs could develop, and Finnish goalies - Miikka Kiprusoff, Pekka Rinne, Tuukka Rask - have had increasing success in the NHL in recent seasons.
Detroit is one club that has already expressed interest in Rynnas, and the Leafs are kicking the tires on him, as well. The challenge for NHL teams, say veteran observers of the Finnish elite league, is to evaluate players in Finland at a time when the quality of the top league has deteriorated significantly. A dominant player in Finland, it's suggested, is not what it used to be.
The hottest free agent out there today is Finnish League goalie Jussi Rynnas, a six-foot-five late bloomer.
Most NHL people think the Assat Pori netminder is the new Monster, the equal of last-year's bidding war for Jonas Gustavsson, the Toronto Maple Leafs rookie.
Yes, the Oilers are in the chase for Rynnas, and they need him. Their cupboard is bare after Nikolai Khabibulin, Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk. They have to spend some of owner Daryl Katz's money. Get the guy signed. About eight clubs are chasing Rynnas.
Two goalies will probably be drafted in the first round this summer – Jack Campbell and Calvin Pickard. There are more quality eligible goalies out there, but I would take one named Jussi Rynnas in 4th or 5th round. He’s put together a surprising season for a very weak team (Assat) and has turned heads in a hurry, very similar to what Jonas Gustavsson did last season with Farjestad.
So there you go. The hub-bub is already building around a guy who's not even thought to be as good as Gustavsson was last off-season, and look at how Gustavssons' season turned out anyway.
It's a tricky game, this prospect gambling.