This article is part of our Crashing the Crease series.
With a new year here and World Juniors well underway, now seems like a good time to take a look at the future of NHL goaltending on display in the tournament.
The standout performer in goal at the WJC has been an unexpected one: Veini Vehvilainen, who's started all six games for Finland, delivering a spectacular 1.51 GAA and .931 save percentage. Just 19 years old (until next month, anyway), Vehvilainen wasn't drafted when eligible in 2015 and 2016 despite being Central Scouting's sixth-ranked international goaltender coming into the latter draft. He's bounced between Finland's SM-liiga (the top pro level) and Mestis (comparable to the AHL) this year, actually posting better numbers for the big team. This tournament performance should launch him into a big spring and an NHL contract sometime in the coming months.
Russia's Ilya Samsonov is a much better-known name, as he's probably the best goalie prospect in hockey right now. Samsonov has sparkled in four outings of his own, posting two shutouts and a .922 composite save mark; he's only given up four even-strength goals. The 19-year-old from Magnitogorsk has been absolutely incredible playing against much older competition in the KHL this year, compiling a .936 save mark to go with a 12-1-3 record for Metallurg.
Sweden's Felix Sandstrom – a third-round pick by the Flyers in 2015 – has been an even-strength brick wall as well, giving up only three such goals over four contests (as well as four power-play tallies), leading to a