The Tampa Bay Lightning selected goaltender Riku Helenius
of Ilves Tampere in the Finnish Elite League with the 15th overall selection in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft Draft.
"We don't think you can ever have enough good, young goaltenders, and we had Riku rated among the top 10 players overall and as the top goaltender on our list," Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster said. "When he was still available, there was no question we would take him. He's very polished, and we like his competitiveness and work ethic. He is also very mentally tough."
Helenius, a 6-foot-3, 202-pound native of Palkane, Finland recorded a 2.68 goal-against average and a .919 save percentage in 26 games with Ilves Junior during the 2005-06 season. The 18-year-old was the top-rated Finnish goaltender in the draft by NHL Central Scouting and was ranked as the top European goaltender in the draft by the Hockey News.
Helenius played in six games at the 2006 World U18 Championships and posted a 1.83 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage with one shutout. He was awarded the Directorate Award at the tournament as the top goaltender and had a 34-save shutout against Team Canada.
Helenius began his career with Ilves Jr. in the 2002-03 season. He has appeared 30 games with Ilves' junior squad since making his debut including five games in the Finnish Elite League.