After not drafting a single goaltender in the 2020 NHL entry draft, the Vancouver Canucks appear to have gotten a good one in this past summer’s draft.
Born in Espoo Finland, Aku Koskenvuo was drafted by Vancouver 137th overall in the fifth round in 2021. Though he entered the draft as the fourth ranked goaltender by NHL Central Scouting, he ended up being the 11th goalie selected, likely because of the consistent drop in his draft stock stemming from his dismal performance for Finland at the under 18 World Junior Championships.
I believe, however, that the teams that passed on him will soon regret it.
Despite questionable statistics in his second season with HIFK of Finland’s top junior league, Koskenvuo has shown significant improvements in his game. His .891 save percentage and 2.86 GAA through 20 games this season certainly aren’t sparkling, but his game has calmed down from the messy routine it once was.
At 6’4″, Koskenvuo has been on NHL scouts’ radars for some time now. However, it wasn’t until earlier this season when the young goaltender truly learned how to harness his height and use it efficiently. Without proper foot work and body control, a goalie’s height is irrelevant.
In Koskenvuo’s draft year he struggled to control simple chances, and often lost suitable puck positioning due to poor zone tracking. Today, he looks much more like an Ian Clark goaltender, utilizing his height properly due to tidier crease navigation, sturdier depth control, and more confidence in locating pucks.
David Quadrelli of Canucks Army reported in the summer that Koskenvuo was taking part in online video sessions with Canucks goalie coach Clark. Since then, it is no fluke that the 19-year-old has adjusted to a more reactionary efficient style, adapting to better suit his most notable ability.
Even before these recent improvements, Koskenvuo would surprise his opponents with his alert athleticism. Now that he has developed a stronger base to his game, and his style is more tailored towards embracing his agility, the sky may very well be the limit.
What impresses me most about Koskenvuo is that he is committed to play for the Harvard University Crimson next season. This kid is smart, and as we have seen with Canucks prospect Jack Rathbone, a former Crimson star, that can absolutely translate to superb hockey IQ. Furthermore, Harvard’s goalie coach Brian Robinson is also a director and video coordinator with Stop It Goaltending, a goalie development program founded by Brian Daccord which promotes modern yet adaptive techniques.
As we saw with Thatcher Demko, the longer Koskenvuo spends in the NCAA the better, and if Ian Clark can continue to be involved in his development via Zoom, who knows what the Fin’s ceiling could be.