Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Päivää Ilkka

As you may have read, the Rangers followed up the Hobey Baker signing of Matt Gilroy by adding a defenseman to possibly work with him in Ilkka Heikkinen.
"The 6-2, 200-pounder has appeared in 283 career SM-liiga games with Lukko Rauma and HIFK Helsinki, collecting 31 goals and 82 assists for 113 points, along with 255 penalty minutes." - official NYR release
This is a move that actually broke earlier over on Hfboards, where some of the loyal lions offered a breakdown, along with the news. As far as I can tell, Heikkinen is a little bit of a tougher version of Christian Backman - some offensive potential with a deficient willingness to put it all on the line ... ok, maybe Backman, maybe Nik Zherdev. But unlike Zherdev, there is no real pressure on this kid to perform, no highlight reels of drool-inducing moves. There are some Youtube clips where it is hard to see him, and where it is very hard to compare the level of play considering the Finnish league is far from the NHL.

So we really don't know exactly what we have here and just have to rely on the skill of head Euro scout Christer Rockstrom to say he will be worth the jersey. The last Scandic import, the Avery-replacement wanna-be/never-was Andreas Jamtin didn't last too long on this side of the pond. Two good things - both of which are quite unrelated and are significant stretches - that work in Heikkinen's favour is that another Ilkka (Sinisalo) had himself a nice career in the NHL and the last Finnish defenseman that I can think of who came to Broadway was Reijo Ruotsalainen, a player Glen Sather lusted after and cherished back in his former, actually successful life on Edmonton.

Now we know that Sather's recent signings have been ... lacking ... and he seems to be building up a stable of blueliners on a team in desperate need of scorers but perhaps there is a master plan and Illka will be part of it. This time of year, we are forced to wait and see and hope and pray and fret and second guess and look at the teams still playing with jealous eyes.

Man, I hate the offseason.

1 comment:

joe said...

It's a 1-way, I take it?

I really would have liked to see us pick up a forward, rather than another Dman. Hartford is loaded with them, and I'm sure at least two of them could compete for the fifth and sixth spots (or even beat the piss out of Redden in an alley and take his spot).