As a famous Missourian (may have) once said, this Finn is your huckleberry. Huckleberry Finn, as it were...
(This is how nicknames get started folks. Work with me here.)
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ville "Huckleberry" Husso.
The Blues currently have three AHL-level goaltenders in the organization – Jordan Binnington, Pheonix Copley, and Anders Nilsson, all of whom are pending restricted free agency as of July 1. Nilsson, who was acquired at the trade deadline this year in exchange for drafted goalie prospect Niklas Lundström, and Copley, who came over from Washington in last summer’s T.J. Oshie trade, are the fruits of Doug Armstrong's trading acumen, while Binnington was drafted by Armstrong in the third round of the 2011 Entry Draft.
The draft has also brought Effingham, Illinois native Luke Opilka into the fold (2015, 146th overall), as well as a player who has established himself over the last three seasons as one of the top goaltenders in a nation that has become famous for producing top-flight NHL goaltenders. Finn Ville Husso, a 6' 3, 205-pound native of Helsinki who was drafted 94th overall by the Blues in 2014, was signed to his entry-level contract (ELC) last week and will be crossing the pond for good in 2016-17.
In the last three seasons with HIFK Helsinki in the Liiga, or Finnish elite league, Husso has made 121 appearances, playing 7341 minutes and allowing just 242 goals on 3118 shots against for career totals of a 1.98 GAA and 92.2 save percentage. Husso has a 63-33-18 record in those three seasons, and has posted ten shutouts in that span, including a career-high five this season alone.
In 39 regular-season games this year (which is the lowest single-season total in Husso's Liiga career), the big Finn cruised to a 1.91 GAA and 92.7 save percentage while posting a 28-8-3 record along with those five shutouts. As impressive as those numbers are, Husso stepped it up a notch in the playoffs, leading HIFK to the championship final round with a 1.55 GAA, a 93.5 save percentage, and a 9-6 record with four shutouts. HIFK fell in the finals, however, to Tappara Tampere, who had appeared in – and lost – the last three Liiga finals in a row before capturing the flag this season.
The chink in Husso's armor, if there is one, would appear to be that he has not particularly distinguished himself in international competition. Husso was named to Team Finland for the 2013 U18 World Junior Championships, but did not see a minute of playing time in the tournament while backing up Jusse Saaros, later drafted by Nashville. He dressed for the Finns in the 2014 and 2015 U20 World Juniors, but in a total of five games played in the two tournaments allowed 14 goals on 139 shots in 273 minutes for a 3.08 GAA and 89.9 save percentage while posting just one win against three losses.
Those numbers are skewed, however, by a horrendous 2014 WJC in which Husso, still just 18 years old at that time, allowed seven goals on 48 shots against in 90 minutes of playing time for a 4.68 GAA and an 85.4 save percentage; he was much better the next season, with a 2.29 GAA and 92.3 saves rate.
|POSITION||Goaltender||DRAFTED BY||St. Louis|
|HEIGHT||6' 03.00"||DRAFT ROUND||4th|
|WEIGHT||205 lbs||DRAFT OVERALL||94th|
|BORN||Feb. 6, 1995||BIRTHPLACE||Helsinki, Finland|
|2012-13||HIFK U20 (FIN Jr)||41||2459||108||1191||2.64||24-17-0||.909||7|
|2013-14||HIFK Helsinki (FIN)||41||2625||78||1018||1.99||19-14-5||.923||2|
|Playoffs||HIFK Helsinki (FIN)||2||144||3||46||1.25||0-2-0||.935||0|
|FIN U20 (WJC)||2||90||7||48||4.68||0-1-0||.854||0|
|2014-15||HIFK Helsinki (FIN)||41||2388||92||1081||2.36||16-11-10||.915||3|
|Playoffs||HIFK Helsinki (FIN)||3||159||6||58||2.27||1-2-0||.897||0|
|FIN U20 (WJC)||3||183||7||91||2.29||1-2-0||.923||1|
|2015-16||HIFK Helsinki (FIN)||39||2328||74||1019||1.91||28-8-3||.927||5|
|Playoffs||HIFK Helsinki (FIN)||15||889||23||355||1.55||9-6-0||.935||4|