When Joonas Korpisalo was drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2012, he raised some eyebrows when asked about his goal for the upcoming season.
"I want to be the No. 1 goalie in Columbus," he told reporters at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. He did so with a straight face.
A bright-eyed, over-the-moon excited Korpisalo didn't mean he was eyeing the top job in the years ahead. He was talking about 2012 and being the Blue Jackets' starting goaltender, and while it seemed a bit ambitious for a kid who had his name called 15 minutes prior, that's just who he is: a driven and extremely competitive player who has taken a lot in his short time working with Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark and applied those lessons to his budding career in Finland.
This week marks the beginning of Finland's 2014 World Junior evaluation camp, and as one of two goaltenders invited to Lake Placid, Korpisalo has a realistic chance of being the team's No. 1 goalie when the tournament begins in December.
He's made a strong case for himself in Finland, as well.
Last season was his fourth with the Jokerit organization - where Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen served in the same role before arriving in Columbus - and Korpisalo made 31 appearances at the junior level and in SM-liiga's second division. Korpisalo made 13 starts for Jokerit's junior club and was later loaned to Kiekko-Vantaa in the second division, where he saw action in 18 games, posting a 2.71 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.
Korpisalo is under contract with Jokerit for this season, which means he'll be squarely on the Finnish management group's radar as he vies for a spot on the national junior team.
And while this week's evaluation camp (which also features camps for the United States, Canada and Sweden) is not the end-all-be-all for a young player's chances at his national junior team, the up close and personal look at a very limited group of kids (Finland has 24 players in camp) can be a significant step forward for those who play well. Part of the camp is a mini-tournament between the four teams, so Korpisalo should see some game action throughout the week.
Stay tuned to BlueJackets.com and the CBJ Today blog for the latest from this week's evaluation camps.