Our annual, 2021 version of the top players under the age of 25 in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
#11: Joel Blomqvist, Goaltender
2020 Ranking: #12
Age: 19 (January 10, 2002)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 183 pounds
Acquired Via: 2020 NHL Draft (Second Round, Pick #52)
Still just a teenager, Joel Blomqvist began his first full professional season not long before being drafted in the second round by the Penguins in the 2020 NHL Draft. Blomqvist began the 2020-21 campaign with his club Kärpät of Finland’s Liiga but was eventually loaned for Hermes of the Mestis league, Finland’s second tier professional league.
There are a lot! But I have my eye on guys like Justus Annunen + Joel Blomqvist from Finland, Dustin Wolf + Trent Miner, and tbh I’m high on Dylan Garand too https://t.co/H9bpHCCrpp— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) April 10, 2021
Before being loaned away, Blomqvist appeared in two games for Kärpät, posting a respectable .914 SV% and an even more respectable 1.50 GAA although we must admit the sample size is very small.
After being loaned away to Hermes for the remained of the season, Blomqvist saw more ice time and thus was better able to continue his development. He appeared in 16 regular season games for Hermes then an additional nine playoff contests. Unfortunately for Blomqvist, his 2020-21 season ended on a sour note, giving up three goals on three shots in a playoff eliminating loss.
As a member of the Kärpät system, Blomqvist played three games with the U20 team this season and two in Liiga. However, he spent the majority of the campaign in Mestis on loan with Hermes, starting 16 regular season games and nine in the playoffs.
I tracked four games of Blomqvist’s season: one in Liiga, a quarter-finals matchup in Mestis and two games of the Mestis playoff finals.
The first thing I noticed watching Blomqvist is how poised he looks in the net.
I couldn’t agree more.
The Finn rarely had to stretch or dive to make a save in any of the games I watched. He covered the net efficiently by sitting back in the crease and relying on excellent lateral movement to make saves.
He is only 19, though, and very much still a work-in-progress. There is plenty of time to work out the few kinks in his game. In my opinion, Blomqvist has shown he is ready for the next step: a permanent spot with Kärpät in Liiga. He is set to split the net with fellow 2020 pick Leevi Meriläinen next season in Finland’s top league.
It should be noted that although Blomqvist and Hermes fell in the playoffs, their run was quite the Cinderella story. Finishing near the bottom of the league, Hermes went on a deep playoff run, backstopped by Blomqvist in goal, to finish runner-up in the Finnish second division.
Outside of playing for Kärpät and Hermes at the professional level, Blomqvist had the opportunity to represent Finland twice at the international level since begin drafted by the Penguins last October.
First, Blomqvist was one of the goalies selected by Finland for the 2021 World Junior Championships held in Canada. He didn’t see the ice in any of Finland’s contests during the tournament, but he did walk away with a bronze medal after his teammates defeated Russia in the third place game.
Blomqvist had another opportunity on the international stage with the Suomi just a few weeks ago at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Michigan. In the showcase series, Blomqvist appeared in four games for Finland, posting a .900 save percentage and recorded three wins in the process.
Joel Blomqvist has looked good for Finland in the #WJSS game today. Big breakaway stop a few minutes ago.— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) July 30, 2021
In those four appearances, Blomqvist only allowed more than two goals once, and in two of the games only allowed a single goal. His only hiccup came against the USA Blue team who lit him up for five tallies on 26 shots.
Goalies are notoriously difficult to project from a prospect perspective but what Blomqvist showed in his first professional season has to be considered promising. He was one of the more highly touted goaltenders in his draft class and many scouts gave the Penguins positive praise for the pick.
Still just 19, there is a lot of time left for Blomqvist to develop and for the Penguins to get a better sense what they have in the young netminder before any further decisions need to be made on his future. If he continues to progress in a positive manner this season, the Penguins will certainly entertain the idea of bringing him to North America to continue his development.
Liiga is set to being its new season in just a few weeks, and Blomqvist is one of only two goaltenders currently on the roster. Although he’s still 19, this could be his chance to showcase his talents in one of the best professional leagues in Europe and give everyone a better idea of what could be to come from the young netminder.