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Red Wings Sign Finnish Goalie Olkinuora

The Red Wings have signed Finnish goalie Juho “Jussi” Olkinuora, the 2022 IIHF World Championship MVP

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Juho "Jussi" Olkinuora, Detroit Red Wings
Juho "Jussi" Olkinuora won gold with Finland at the world tourney and Olympic Games last season.

The Detroit Red Wings are signing a European goalie for the 2022-23 NHL season but it isn’t Magnus Hellberg.

The club has agreed to terms with Finnish netminder Juho “Jussi” Olkinuora. He’s been given a one-year, two-way contract with an AAV of $750,000, the NHL minimum. Olkinuora will get $375,000 if he plays in the minor leagues, according to CapFriendly. He is guaranteed $425,000 of the total sum of the pact.

Olkinuora, 31, enjoyed a career year during the 2021-22 campaign. Firstly, he helped Finland to an Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Winter Games. Secondly, the IIHF World Championship saw Olkinuora turning in an epic performance as the Finns again won gold, this time on home ice.

Olkinuora completed the tourney as the leader in wins (8), shutouts (4) and goals-against average (1.11). His save percentage was .948. The Finnish goaltender was cited as the tournament MVP, as well as the top netminder of the event.

While he’s never played in the NHL, the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Olkinuora is familiar with the North American game. He spent two seasons with the NCAA Denver Pioneers and then four seasons from 2012-16 in the AHL with the St. John’s IceCaps and Manitoba Moose.

Olkinuora played for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL the past two seasons.

The decision to add him is giving Detroit three pro goalies under contract. Olkinuora will likely compete for the job as backup to Alex Nedeljkovic in Detroit. If he’s not successful there, he’ll give the Wings a veteran pro to call upon with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. Victor Brattstrom, who played for GR last year, is the other Red Wings netminder with pro experience.

Last month, Olkinuora had originally agreed to a one-year deal with EHC Biel of the Swiss League, where his goaltending partner would’ve been Red Wings 2015 draftee Joren Van Pottelberghe.

Red Wings Passing On Hellberg?

Interestingly, the guy who finished right behind Olkinuora in the goalie stats at the world tourney was Sweden’s Hellberg. The Red Wings added Hellberg as a free agent late last season.

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It was viewed as an audition for the 2022-23 campaign but Hellberg only got into one game. He beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3 in Detroit’s season finale. The Swede stopped 23 of 26 shots for an .870 save percentage.

The decision to go with Olkinuora would make it seem likely that Detroit won’t be bringing Hellberg back for a further look next season.