Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Wolf Pack sign Miika Wiikman

Until I bought that baby oil it just kept sticking to the pan

(Surreptitiously avoiding the obvious headline, "Woolf Paack Siign Miika Wiikman"...)

From the official Wolf Pack press release, dated 7/5/06:

The Hartford Wolf Pack announced today that they have signed goaltender Miika Wiikman to an American Hockey League contract.

Wiikman, a native of Mariestad, Sweden, played the last two seasons in Finland's top professional league, for HPK Hameenlinna. In 2005-06, the 21-year-old, 5-11, 177-pound backstop was named the winner of the Jari Kurri Trophy, given to the top player in the Finnish League playoffs. Wiikman helped lead HPK Hameenlinna to the Finnish League postseason title, with 1.98 playoff goals-against average and a 92.9% save percentage in 11 games. During the 2005-06 regular season he appeared in 34 games, posting a 2.09 goals-against average and a 92.9% save percentage.

Wiikman attended the New York Rangers' Prospect Camp a week ago as a non-draftee, though I could find no specific evaluations of him, other than "he's being looked at."

Here's one write-up of Miika Wiikman that was on Hockey's Future, written prior to this past season:

Miika Wiikman - G – undrafted, age 20 - Style comparison: Martin Gerber

Swedish-born and of Finnish descent, Wiikman moved to Finland for good in 2003, taking the career path of a young Finnish goalie. However, he is too small to play optimal butterfly and too green to be in the typical Finnish goaltender mold. He maintains a cool composure until the moment action is needed, when he displays athleticism and technique sufficient for domination.

His style isn’t a typical package, so it appears there is still plenty of room for improvement, perhaps enough to reach the NHL. Wiikman went undrafted in 2005. That was the last year of eligibility for the goalie about to turn 21, and his next possible dealing with an NHL organization would be signing as a free agent.

With Steve Valiquette signing a deal with the Rangers this past week, and with Al Montoya (depending upon his shoulder injury) and Chris Holt already incumbent in Hartford, I can only guess at the reasoning behind this signing. It could just be that the Rangers saw something in Wiikman that made him worth keeping, and, not wanting to use up one of their NHL slots, had Schoenfeld sign him to an AHL deal with the intent of loaning him to Charlotte (if he doesn't end up staying in Hartford) or re-assigning him elsewhere at a later date.