The Nashville Predators have signed goaltender Niclas Westerholm to a three-year entry-level contract. This news follows yesterday’s entry-level signing of Tanner Jeannot by the Predators. Westerholm, a Finnish native, now joins Troy Grosenick as a goaltender under contract for next season who could potentially be in the Milwaukee Admirals net for the 2018-19 season.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (April 3, 2018) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Tuesday that the club has signed goaltender Niclas Westerholm to a three-year, entry-level contract, which will begin in 2018-19.
Westerholm, 20 (8/13/97), made his professional hockey debut this season with SaiPa of the Finnish Elite League, recording a 3.23 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in four games. He has spent the majority of the 2017-18 season with SaiPa’s under-20 team in the Jr. A SM-liiga, where he recorded a 2.42 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 28 appearances.
Never drafted, the 6-foot-4, 198-pound goaltender has experience playing in North America, appearing in 28 games for Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl High School during the 2015-16 season. Westerholm spent five seasons with the Karhu-Kissat junior program from 2010-15, working his way from junior C to junior A prior to his time in Minnesota. The Helsinki, Finland, native posted his best season with Karhu-Kissat in 2014-15 on its under-18 squad, recording a 1.81 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 16 performances.
Considering the path taken by Westerholm to reach this contract I would be very impressed if he comes over and fits into the AHL mix next season. The 20-year old from Helsinki has played only 7 games with a senior level club – all of which came with his rapid ascent from the Junior-20 scenes in Finland this season. He did show relatively well in his 4 games played in Finland’s Liiga for SaiPa as he held a 3.23 goals against average and 0.898 save percentage.
This is a three-year signing so I suspect if Westerholm arrives next season he should be thought of as a long-term project. He is a 6’4″ goaltender though which checks two boxes for a Predators goaltender: tall and Finnish. Interestingly, in 2015-16 he spent the season in the United States playing with Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl High of the USHS-MN. It was after that time, returning to Finland, that he started to really rocket upward.
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