Flyers sign goaltending prospect

By JAY BOEHMER
Senior Hockey Insider — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com
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The Flyers announced today that they’ve signed 23 year old Finnish goaltender Niko Hovinen.

Hovinen is a prospect, not a top candidate for NHL play, and likely wouldn’t see time with the Flyers’ organization – even playing at the AHL level – for another season or two.

His addition adds some depth to the Flyers’ goaltending prospect pool, which includes Joacim Eriksson of the Swedish Elite League and Nicola Riopel, who spent most of the past season with the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL.

The 6’7”, 200-lb goalie provides a big frame in net, hopes to become one of the many Finnish netminders to make a splash in the NHL.

Reports are that he has problems with his form, sometimes struggling to maintain position, but makes up for it with such a large frame to fill the net. If Hovinen can develop his game a little more, and strengthen up, then a solid few years in the NHL could be a distinct possibility.

After years of floating off the radar in goaltender development, Finland has emerged in recent years – producing the likes of Miikka Kiprusoff, Tuukka Rask, Niklas Backstrom, Stanley Cup winner Antti Niemi, and Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne.

Whether Hovinen’s name gets added to that list is yet to be seen, and likely won’t be known for a few years. But if the sudden emergence of Sergei Bobrovsky is any indication – anything can happen, and a star can appear when you least expect it.

If he does ever make it to the NHL, Hovinen will be the tallest goalie ever to stand in net at a towering 6’7” – only two inches short of the tallest NHL player, Zdeno Chara.

Carcillo Suspended

In other news, the league announced today that Dan Carcillo is going to have to serve a two game suspension to start the 2011-2012 season.

Carcillo’s actions between the first and second periods of Game 4 in Boston – which include an “incident” outside of the officials’ locker room and a verbal confrontation with linesman Brian Murphy – caught the NHL’s attention, and punishment has been handed out.

NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy had this to say:

“Between the first and second period, while off ice and outside the officials’ locker room, Mr. Carcillo engaged in aggressive behavior and inappropriate conduct directed at the officials,” said Murphy. “While Mr. Carcillo acknowledged in the hearing that he regrets his actions outside of the officials’ room, there can be no defense for his conduct.

“I also reviewed the verbal confrontation between Carcillo and linesman Brian Murphy at the players’ bench prior to the start of the second period and have determined that, while the verbal abuse may have been worthy of a penalty, there is no evidence that Carcillo’s actions merit suplemental discipline.”

Whether Carcillo serves that suspension as a Flyer or not is unknown, as his contract expires this year and leaves him as a restricted free agent.

With cap troubles, the possible resigning of Ville Leino, and their apparent desire to acquire a top tier goaltender, the Flyers simply may run out of room for someone like Dan Carcillo.

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