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Finnish Flashes In The Pan


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#1 Triumph

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 09:55 PM

One thing interesting to me at least about the Tuomo Ruutu acquisition is that he's from Finland, and while the Devils have a long history of successful European players (including countries that seldom produce NHLers like Poland and Lithuania) they have really never had a good Finnish player.   Ruutu's signed for 2 more years - the question is, does he break the franchise record for points scored by a Finnish born player?  I decided to examine the team's history with Finnish players using the very helpful hockey-reference resource - I generated this list of players.

 

The franchise leader in points by a Finn is Tapio Levo with 69 - Levo scored over 200 goals in the Finnish league and I know he used to be a common punchline around these parts, seems like he just couldn't play defense. 

 

Next is the timeless Janne Ojanen with 44.  Ojanen, like Levo, never played for another NHL franchise and went back to Finland and ended up with 283 goals in the Finnish league.  He was still playing in that league in 2009-10 despite being 41 years old.

 

Then it gets dire.  Veli-Pekka Kotela apparently played for Colorado - he too crushed the Finnish league, but ended up with only 14 points for the Rockies.

 

Next is Anssi Salmela with 13 - say what you will about Salmela, but his two goals for the Devils are both pretty memorable - the one, he got concussed by Jeff Carter in a hit that would've drawn a suspension now (and it was a short-handed goal in a big divisional game), and the second was an OT winner in 2010-11 that had the Devils the closest to the playoffs that they would get that year.  He played two years in the KHL and hasn't played anywhere this year, but I'm not sure why - hockeydb lists him on two rosters in the Swedish Hockey League, but he hasn't been in a game.

 

Jukka Porvari and his 12 points are next - Porvari made the trip from Colorado to New Jersey and ended up playing in Austria the same year.  When guys off your NHL team go to Austria to play hockey later that year it's not a good sign.

 

Reijo Ruotsalainen had only 7 points as a Devil - he was acquired by NJ in 87 via the since-mothballed waiver draft but played that year and the following one overseas.  He came back to Jersey for 31 games, got traded back to Edmonton, and won another Stanley Cup with the Oilers.  He played 26 games for the Oilers in the regular season and 43 in the playoffs.  Weird career.  For years afterwards Glen Sather would list him as available in the waiver draft for reasons only known to him.

 

Ilkka Pikkarainen had 4 points and is the player more Devils fans should point to when people complain about the 4th line because this guy was not an NHL player but somehow got into 31 games in 2009-10.  This year he has 6 goals in 47 games for the Pelicans of the Finnish league.

 

Tuomas Pihlman played parts of 3 seasons in NJ, the bulk of which was in 2005-06, scoring 2 points in 15 games.  The Devils' forward depth in the minor leagues was ghastly at the time - Pihlman played 4 seasons in the AHL and scored 39 goals.  Pihlman appears to be a 4th liner in the Finnish league now.

 

Timo Blomqvist had 2 points in 20 games for NJ and appears to have been some kind of depth defenseman.  He's mentioned in some really old New York Times article that you can google about NJ basically being too broke to call players up from their AHL affiliate.

 

Next is of course Esa Tikkanen who was acquired in 95-96 and then summarily dispatched the same year without scoring a goal.  Never quite found out what went on there but I guess he and Lou did not see eye to eye - NJ got him for a 3rd round pick and then dealt him for a 2nd which is sort of nuts.  No doubt he's the best Finnish player ever to play for NJ but that's a lot like saying the best Canadian player to play for the Coyotes franchise is Brett Hull.

 

And then the two pointless guys - Olli Malmivaara is the tallest player to ever play for the Devils, which I guess is an achievement of sorts, and Harri Pesonen looked okay in a 4 game callup but will probably return to Finland at the end of the year and crush that league for the next 10 seasons.  Let's hope Tuomo Ruutu can accomplish more than this sorry bunch - he'll need 68 points spread over this season and the next 2 to make it as the franchise leader, let's hope he gets there.


Edited by Triumph, 09 March 2014 - 10:00 PM.

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#2 Satans Hockey

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:04 PM

Nice research tri. Unless he gets injured there is no excuse for him not to break this record.

Edited by Satans Hockey, 09 March 2014 - 10:05 PM.

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#3 '7'

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:11 PM

I seem to remember Tikkanen saying some nasty things about the franchise on his way out. It wasn't a bad pickup. Still a useful player at that point. Promptly got traded to Vancouver and tore it up. Didn't we send Dowd to Van along with Esa?


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^7^ is just defending his sport sheeps.. as Alcibiades the exiled Athenian rationalizes in his speech to the enemy Spartans, he wants to take revenge on Athens because he loves it and can't stand to see the state it's in now - Triumph
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#4 Daniel

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:11 PM

I remember hearing something about Salmela having a drinking or other substance abuse problem. Might be why he's listed as not having layer any games. I also remember being at the game where he scored the OT winner, was against the Isles, and I believe it was Josefson's first NHL goal, but could be wrong about that.


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#5 '7'

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:18 PM

The best guy we got from Finland turned out to be a Polish-American

 

I imagine the LA Kings scouts were there as well, thank god they decided to take the future drug smuggler instead. And with all their problems in goal at the time...they missed two big ones right under their nose. God the Kings used to be so inept.


Edited by '7', 09 March 2014 - 10:24 PM.

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^7^ is just defending his sport sheeps.. as Alcibiades the exiled Athenian rationalizes in his speech to the enemy Spartans, he wants to take revenge on Athens because he loves it and can't stand to see the state it's in now - Triumph
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#6 devilsrule33

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:41 PM

Great research Tri.

 

Ikka Pikkarainen will always be a punch line because it summed up a brutal off-season (not really, but it felt like it at the time). The Devils were coming off the worst playoff defeat since 1994 (arguably a bigger stomach punch). They had just lost Madden and Gionta on July 1st when Lou dropped this line:

 

 

"It will be different, but we still have the core there," he said. "You've got Zach (Parise), Travis (Zajac), Jamie (Langenbrunner), (Patrik) Elias, (Brian) Rolston, (Dainius) Zubrus, (David) Clarkson, (Jay) Pandolfo. We've still got players, but we have to bring players in like (Pierre-Luc Letourneau-) Leblond, (Rod) Pelley. They have to get that opportunity, just like John got it when (Bobby) Carpenter left. So, we're very comfortable with the players that we have - See more at: http://blogs.northje...h.DZi4VmbH.dpuf

 

As July 1st was about to end..suddenly some interesting news:

 

DEVILS ON THE VERGE OF SIGNING A MYSTERY PLAYER

 

The next day...

 

 

“Ilkka Pikkarainen is a forward who brings size, strength, scoring, and toughness to our roster,” said Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. “We welcome him back to our hockey club." - See more at: http://blogs.northje...h.TLTfNsvg.dpuf

 


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#7 Triumph

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:53 PM

Well, the fact that Lou said it was someone on NJ's reserve list meant that it couldn't be anyone that exciting.  Pikkarainen has to be a classic case of NJ scouting him 3 games that year and him having the 3 best games of his season when they were in the stands.

 

Daniel:  Yes that's all true, I was at that game too.

 

Re: Rafalski - other teams were in on Rafalski also, he chose NJ.  Karalahti is still playing in Finland at age 39 so despite his personal problems he had some talent.


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#8 Mike Brown

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 11:02 PM

The Devils and Finns don't mix for whatever reason.  Speaking of Salmela, I have an autographed puck of his.


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#9 Zubie#8

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 12:27 AM

That Salmela OT goal was something else, so glad I saw that live the place absolutely exploded.
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#10 Zubie#8

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 12:27 AM

That Salmela OT goal was something else, so glad I saw that live the place absolutely exploded.
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#11 Mike Brown

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 01:16 AM

I heard you the first time Zubie#8.  ;) :P


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#12 Marshall

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 04:24 AM

Salmela has played 44 games this year in the SHL, so hockeydb is off there. 


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#13 Chimaira_Devil_#9

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 05:53 AM

Salmela is playing for HV71.

 

 

GP G  A  TP  PIM +/- Hits 

44   9 18  27   84   11  83


Edited by Chimaira_Devil_#9, 10 March 2014 - 07:58 AM.

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#14 mfitz804

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:44 AM

Whatever his nationality, I just hope Ruutu isn't Finnish-ed scoring for the season.
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#15 dmann422

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:01 AM

Anyone else find that all these Finnish names sound better with doc saying them. Especially pikkarainen- I literally can't read his name without doing it in doc's voice, it makes it so much better.
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#16 lazer

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 12:43 PM

pesonen should get a look.


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Posted 10 March 2014 - 01:17 PM

Ojanen had a nice start to his career...I remember him having 10 goals and 10 assists in his first 30 GP or so as a Devil in '89-'90.  The Devils of that era had a habit of getting off to fast starts (especially offensively), then fading.  After those initial 30 games, it just went downhill for him. 

 

Tikkanen just wanted no part of NJ, and it became very obvious very quickly that he had no interest in putting any effort in at all as a Devil (he was a salary dump by the Blues...Blues' ownership was reducing payroll at the time, and Tikk was not happy about being jettisoned), and to Lou's credit, he recognized it almost immediately and got him the hell off the team after just 9 GP.  Strangely enough, Lou coughed up a 3rd-rounder to get him, Esa came and did nothing for 9 games, then Lou was able to get a 2nd rounder out of the Canucks.  Tikk went on to put up 37 points in 38 GP with Vancouver...amazing what actually trying on the ice can do.


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#18 DevsMan84

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 02:32 PM

Ojanen had a nice start to his career...I remember him having 10 goals and 10 assists in his first 30 GP or so as a Devil in '89-'90.  The Devils of that era had a habit of getting off to fast starts (especially offensively), then fading.  After those initial 30 games, it just went downhill for him. 

 

Tikkanen just wanted no part of NJ, and it became very obvious very quickly that he had no interest in putting any effort in at all as a Devil (he was a salary dump by the Blues...Blues' ownership was reducing payroll at the time, and Tikk was not happy about being jettisoned), and to Lou's credit, he recognized it almost immediately and got him the hell off the team after just 9 GP.  Strangely enough, Lou coughed up a 3rd-rounder to get him, Esa came and did nothing for 9 games, then Lou was able to get a 2nd rounder out of the Canucks.  Tikk went on to put up 37 points in 38 GP with Vancouver...amazing what actually trying on the ice can do.

 

Esa has at least to me always come off as a cry-baby and I had that opinion before the Devils and when he came here and then basically cemented that view I had of him.  I guess too much time with the 80's Oilers spoiled him.


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#19 cgb6397

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 03:33 PM

Salmela brought us Kovalchuk, who as a Devil, earned 201 points, so he wins by proxy, no?


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#20 devilsrule33

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 03:36 PM

Salmela brought us Kovalchuk, who as a Devil, earned 201 points, so he wins by proxy, no?

 

He came with Kovy.


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