The Colorado Avalanche has signed goalie Sami Aittokallio to a one-year deal, according to GeneralFanager.com. The deal is worth $735,000 and includes a clause that allows Aittokallio to play in Europe.
— General Fanager (@generalfanager) August 21, 2015
Aittokallio was the Colorado Avalanche’s fourth-round selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he spent three seasons with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters, and also appeared in two NHL and four ECHL games.
The Finnish goalie did a very good job in his first years, but was stuck behind top goalie prospect Calvin Pickard for the longest time. Pickard was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft. With Pickard and Berra set to battle out the Avalanche backup spot, Aittokallio would be stuck in the AHL behind either one of them. Furthermore, the Avalanche also has Roman Will and Spencer Martin in the system, who all want some playing time with the San Antonio Rampage next season.
Therefore, Aittokallio’s decision to make the move over to his home country makes perfect sense. He will be the starting goaltender for the Liiga’s Oulun Kärpät, one of the favorites to win the Finnish league title this season. Aittokallio gave his Champions Hockey League (CHL) debut on Thursday, shutting out the DEL’s Krefeld Pinguine (Krefeld Penguins) in a 2-0 win.
The new deal with the Colorado Avalanche, and the Europe clause, will allow him to stay in Finland (where he signed a two-year contract), while the Avalanche keeps his NHL rights. Aittokallio will get some much-needed playing time at Europe’s highest level, instead of being stuck behind Berra or Pickard in the AHL. If he does well, we may see him back in Colorado soon enough.
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