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AHL Notebook: Western Conference goalies in spotlight

Kahkonen, Korenar, Lankinen among those making impact in league

by Patrick Williams / Independent Correspondent

An apprenticeship in the American Hockey League is a near-must for top NHL goalie prospects.

One week after looking at five prospects from Eastern Conference teams' AHL affiliates, we head to the Western Conference:


Kaapo Kahkonen, Iowa (Minnesota Wild)

A season after pairing with Andrew Hammond in Iowa, the 23-year-old has become the veteran in the Iowa goaltending picture with rookie Mat Robson.

Kahkonen (6-foot-2, 214 pounds) is 6-2-0 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .909 save percentage in eight games. Iowa (8-3-2-1) is in a first-place tie with Milwaukee (Nashville Predators) in the Central Division.

Selected by Minnesota in the fourth round (No. 109) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Kahkonen was 20-23-12 with a 2.20 GAA and .920 save percentage in 56 games for Lukko in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. He was 17-22-4 with a 2.78 GAA and .908 save percentage in Iowa last season before Hammond took over in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Josef Korenar, San Jose (San Jose Sharks) 

The 21-year-old broke into the AHL last season as an undrafted prospect and immediately made an impact.

Korenar (6-1, 185) signed with the Sharks as an undrafted free agent July 13, 2017 and played nine games with HC Dukla Jihlava in the Czech Extraliga in 2017-18 before making the full-time jump to the AHL. He was 23-8-2 with a 2.54 GAA and .911 save percentage in 34 games as an AHL rookie. He was also selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic and later took full control of the No. 1 job in the playoffs.

Korenar has kept that grip on the starting job in his second AHL season. The Sharks traded veteran Antoine Bibeau, Korenar's AHL partner last season, to the Colorado Avalanche on Sept. 27. Korenar is 3-3-1 with a 2.27 GAA and .914 save percentage in seven games.


Kevin Lankinen, Rockford (Chicago Blackhawks) 

Also undrafted, the 24-year-old (6-2, 190) has made himself a strong contender for future work with the Blackhawks. 

After splitting last season between Rockford and the ECHL, Lankinen helped Finland to first place at the 2019 IIHF World Championship by going 7-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .942 save percentage that put him in competition with Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning) for top goaltending honors at the tournament. Lankinen shut out Russia 1-0 with 32 saves in the semifinal and finished Finland's run to the title with 43 saves against Canada in a 3-1 win.

Lankinen signed with the Blackhawks on May 21, 2018. Before joining the Chicago organization, he had a standout Liiga career that featured four seasons with HIFK Helsinki. 

An injury has slowed the start of the regular season for Lankinen, but he is 3-1-0 with a 1.99 GAA and .930 save percentage in four games. 


Cal Petersen, Ontario (Los Angeles Kings) 

Petersen (6-1, 180) endured a trying season in 2018-19, when recalls and injuries sent Ontario to a last-place finish.

Though the 25-year-old was 13-19-3 with a 4.02 GAA and .896 save percentage in 38 games, he faced an average of 38.8 shots per game. He also played 11 games with the Kings and was 5-4-1 with a 2.61 GAA and .924 save percentage.

With Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell again healthy in Los Angeles, Petersen has remained in the AHL to continue his development. Ontario has retooled and is off to an 8-4-2 start and two points out of first place in the Pacific Division. Petersen has continued to be a workhorse; he is 8-4-2 with a 2.46 GAA and .932 save percentage in 14 starts.

Originally selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth round (No. 129) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Petersen instead signed with the Kings on July 1, 2017 after three seasons at the University of Notre Dame.


Adam Werner, Colorado (Colorado Avalanche)

Werner made 40 saves on 40 shots in his NHL debut, a 4-0 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, after relieving injured starter Pavel Francouz 31 seconds into the game.

With Philipp Grubauer on injured reserve, the Avalanche recalled Werner on Nov. 7. He is 5-4-0 with a 2.88 GAA and .908 save percentage in nine AHL games.

Selected by Colorado in the fifth round (No. 131) of the 2016 NHL Draft, Werner (6-5, 205) made the transition to North America after one full season with Farjestads BK of the Swedish Hockey League. 

The 22-year-old was 15-9-0 with a 2.02 GAA and .926 save percentage in 26 regular-season games in the SHL last season. He signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Avalanche on May 13, 2019.

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