The 2023 version of the Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25 countdown list rumbles on to the top young goalie in the organization.
2023 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed
#25: Daniel Laatsch
#24: Cooper Foster
#23: Thimo Nickl
#22: Dillon Hamaliuk
#21 Mikhail Ilyin
#20: Jack St. Ivany
#19: Chase Yoder
#18: Emil Jarventie
#17: Nolan Collins
#16: Raivis Ansons
#15: Ty Glover
#14: Taylor Gauthier
#13: Isaac Belliveau
#12: Lukas Svejkovsky
#11: Tristan Broz
#10: Sergei Murashov
#9: Emil Pieniniemi
#8: Sam Poulin
#7: Jonathan Gruden
#6: Joel Blomqvist, G
2022 Ranking: #7
Age: 21 (Jan. 10, 2002)
Acquired Via: 2020 NHL Draft (Round 2 - No. 52 overall)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 183 pounds
After picking up one game at the AHL level in each of the last two season’s following the end of his Finnish year, Joel Blomqvist looks ready to make the full-time jump to the North American ranks in 2023-24.
Blomqvist still does carry a European Assignment clause in his contract that would allow him to bolt back to Finland if he so chooses, but sooner or later if the 21-year old wants to start working his way up the ranks to the NHL, he’s likely going to have to start showing his stuff in the Penguins’ organization full-time. It looks like that time and process will be starting now.
Blomqvist endured a difficult 2022-23 with Karpat, battling a pair of concussions that kept him off the ice for a good bit of time and then seeing some of his stats decline from an awesomely successful 2021-22. From the Tribune Review:
“I’m feeling completely normal and healthy,” Blomqvist said during the Penguins’ recent development camp in Cranberry. “They told me that the injuries that I’ve had have been minor. So there should be no worries about the future. I feel healthy right now, so it’s not a concern for me.”
Perhaps his most pressing concern at the moment is making the necessary adjustments to playing in North America, specifically playing on a smaller rink.
North American rinks are 85 feet across, whereas most European rinks are 98.4 feet in width. Finnish rinks can range between 92 and 98 feet.
“The biggest thing is it’s a smaller rink (in North America),” said Blomqvist, who catches with his left hand. “Every play comes at you faster, so you have to be kind of more aware of the situations.
The Penguins will be excited to see what the high draft pick can do. It will be a crowded situation in the minors next year, with Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljokvic expected to be in Pittsburgh the Pens also have veteran Magnus Hellberg and youngster Taylor Gauthier under NHL contracts, along with Blomqvist. Where exactly they plan to juggle and how to distribute the goalies between the minors remains to be seen.
Talent tends to rise to the top, and Pittsburgh will be invested in seeing that Blomqvist continues his development. As a younger player, Blomqvist was considered one of the top goalies in his age group in the world via his ranking in the NHL draft and then making his way up the ranks in Finland. Now, a new journey begins as he shifts to give it a go with an NHL organization.