Jussi Olkinuora wasn’t in the unemployment line for long following his departure from the Detroit Red Wings.
On Wednesday, announcement that the Red Wings and Finnish goaltender Olkinuora were reaching a mutual agreement to terminate his contract with the club was made. Friday, Olkinuora was signing a contract with Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League.
A free agent addition by Detroit last summer, hope was that Olkinuora would be a challenger for the backup role in Detroit. At the very least, the view of the 32-year-old European veteran was as a solid No. 3 option as the top goalie with the club’s AHL farm team the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Ultimately, neither envisioned scenario would be materializing.
Crazy how much Jussi Olkinuora has been a stand-out goalie internationally and completely lost on North American ice. He's signed with Brynäs, who've had goaltending nightmares and sit third-from-last with 12 games left in the SHL season. https://t.co/8XlquL0l4s
— Kevin Lacy 🇺🇦 (@KevinLacy22) February 3, 2023
Olkinuora was unimpressive in NHL preseason play. Following assignment to the Griffins, he was a loser in four of his first six AHL starts. In five of his first eight starts for Grand Rapids, Olkinuora was beaten at least four times. He saw his save percentage dipping below .800 in five of 15 appearances and under .900 in all but six appearances.
Upon his departure, Olkinuora’s AHL numbers were including a 3.75 goals-against average, .868 save percentage, 6-8 record and one shutout.
Olkinuora A European Star
Olkinuora is going back to play where he was arguably the best goaltender of them all last season. Playing for his homeland last season, he was turning the rare and unique double of backstopping his country to an Olympic gold medal and World Championship title.
At the worlds, he was earning most valuable player, posting an 8-0-0 record with a 1.11 GAA and a .948 save percentage.
“Jussi Olkinuora is a winner, a good person and a fantastic goalkeeper who will make our team stronger in every way,” Brynas sports manager Johan Alcén told Aftonbladet. “When the opportunity to bring him in came up, there wasn’t much to think about.”
He was spending the first half this season working alongside top Red Wings prospects. Olkinuora will see two more key pieces of Detroit’s future in his SHL debut for Brynas. Saturday, his new club is facing Rogle and Red Wings draft picks Marco Kasper and William Wallinder.