Pittsburgh Penguins
Photo courtesy of Liiga.fi

Fantasy Summary

A defensive defenseman with little fantasy upside


Attributes
Fantasy Upside 3.5
NHL Certainty 7.0
Country FIN
Position D
Roster Type System
Shoot/Glove Left
Date of Birth May 11, 1998
Height 6‘1”
Weight 180 lbs
Drafted 2016 Round 5; Overall: 151

Observations

September 2020 – Almari will head back to his native country of Finland, as he has been loaded to the Lahden Pelicans of the Liiga for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. This move is due to the AHL season still being unknown to start due to Covid-19. Clare McManus 

April 2020 – The 21-year-old Finnish blueliner learned a lot in his first pro year with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Coming from Finland and spending years on International ice, it took him time to familiarize himself with a smaller ice surface and to adjust to the North American style of play. He was even a healthy scratch for a few games during the year. During that time he went over lot’s of footage to help grow his game. He noticed his mistakes and is working on the things he needs to do to solidify himself as a solid defenseman. Almari ended up finishing the year with one goal and six assists for seven total points in 51 games with the baby Penguins. Clare McManus

 

September 2019 – Almari was one of 17 players assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL in the second round of cuts from Pittsburgh’s training camp. The slender 21-year-old has a future in the NHL as a defensive specialist, but Pittsburgh currently has no room for a newcomer on the blueline. Mark Allan

 

May 2019 – The 20-year-old Finn signed a three-year, entry-level contract with a $925,000 average annual value. The left-shooting blueliner capped a three-year stint with HPK in Finland’s top pro league, the Liiga, by being on a league championship squad. The 6-1, 180-pounder posted one goal and four assists in 42 regular-season games and played in all 18 of HPK’s playoff outings, although he went pointless. He will surely begin his North American experience in the AHL. The defensively dependable but low-scoring back-ender has a much better shot of making Pittsburgh’s lineup someday than ever being on your fantasy roster. Mark Allan

 

April 2019 – His offensive production took a step back in his second slate in the Finnish Liiga. However, the difference between eight and five points in more than 40 games is inconsequential, especially for an intelligent defender who keeps his game simple – stop the other guys from scoring. By early April, Pittsburgh had still not signed him. Mark Allan

 

December 2018 – Living up to his reputation as a defense-first, low-scoring defender, Almari has two assists in his first 13 games this campaign with HPK of the Liiga, Finland’s highest level of hockey. He added one helper in two games with HPK’s junior A squad. Mark Allan

 

June 2018 – On an amateur tryout deal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Finn had no points in two late-season AHL games and one assist in a playoff appearance. The Pittsburgh fifth-round draft pick is expected to skate for HPK of the Liiga, for whom he’s totaled 13 points in 65 outings during the past two campaigns. Leading all defensemen with 11 points in 10 2017 Jr. A SM-Liiga playoff games was a promising sign. He’s just 20, so he has time to play a little more in Finland before coming over. Mark Allan

 

April 2018 – Giving him a second chance, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton signed Almari to an AHL amateur tryout. After being released from a similar deal a year ago, he returned on loan to Finland, where the 19-year-old just finished his second pro season with HPK of the Finnish Liiga. He compiled four goals and four assists in 41 games, although he was loaned at times to Lempäälän Kisa and Espoo United of the Mestis, Finland’s second-tier pro league. Almari had four assists in 13 Mestis outings, following with two scores and an assist in five Junior A SM-Liiga games. The Pittsburgh organization clearly remains interested in the Finnish teen but he has to prove he can adapt to North American culture and play against men on this side of the Atlantic. Mark Allan

 

October 2017 – Helped by a 24-game, five-point audition in Finland’s highest level of hockey, the 19-year-old is off to a respectable start to begin his first full campaign in the Liiga against grown men. One goal and three assists in 16 games for HPK are not eye-popping stats, but the Penguins didn’t draft him until the fifth round. Plus-5 so far, the same mark he achieved in 24 Liiga games in 2016-17, hints at good defensive play. Mark Allan

 

June 2017 – Two weeks after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton signed the Finn to an amateur tryout deal in mid-April for the rest of the AHL regular season, Pittsburgh announced he was being released from his contract and returned to the SM-Liiga in his homeland. No explanation was given, although it’s clear the slim 6-1, 165-pounder needs more seasoning in Europe. Playing against men in Finland’s best league, the 18-year-old had three goals and two assists in 24 games with HPK Hameenlinna and posted similar stats with Lempäälän Kisa (Mestis) in his pro debut. The mobile rearguard was also part of HPK’s junior club that won the Legacy Bowl as the Junior A SM-liiga champion. The Penguins will likely not rush Almari across the Atlantic again. Mark Allan

 

January 2017 – A long-term project for the Penguins, the stringbean defender has played in three levels of Finnish hockey this season. He had three assists in seven games with the Junior A HPK U20 squad and added two goals and two assists in 17 games for HPK in the Liiga, Finland’s highest level of hockey, before being loaned to LeKi of Mestis, the country’s second-highest leve. In Mestis, Almari posted a goal and three assists in his first 14 games. Interestingly, he was plus-7 in the Liiga and minus-5 so far at the lower Mestis level, likely a result of LeKi’s sub-.500 ninth-place standing. Almari has skill, but he will have to muscle up from 168 pounds if he has any hope of being an NHL defenseman. Mark Allan

 

July 2016 – With the last pick in the fifth round of 2016 NHL draft, Pittsburgh selected a mobile defenseman with strong footwork who received a good amount of ice time with Jokerit U20 in the 2015-16 season. He’s confident offensively, showing good poise and vision with the puck. He improved defensively quite a bit and he also became more assertive with his puck management. Almari has a strong stick but he will need to add more muscle to be able to compete at the men’s level. Still, there was a lot to like about his development towards the end of the season. Marco Bombino


Stats

 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2013-2014 Blues U16U16 SM-sarja Q10 1 45 4|        
  Blues U16U16 SM-sarja20 4 1721 12|Playoffs9 0 44
  Kiekko-Espoo U18U18 SM-sarja6 0 11 2|Playoffs6 0 33
  Finland U16 (all)International-Jr10 1 12 6|        
 2014-2015 Kiekko-Espoo U18U18 SM-sarja17 2 46 10|Playoffs9 2 35
  Kiekko-Espoo U20U20 SM-sarja26 4 48 16|        
  Finland U17WHC-176 0 11 0|        
  Finland U17EYOF3 0 11 4|        
  Finland U17 (all)International-Jr24 2 35 20|        
 2015-2016 Kiekko-Espoo U18U18 SM-sarja5 2 35 0|        
  Kiekko-Espoo U20U20 SM-sarja12 0 00 4|        
  Jokerit U20U20 SM-sarja27 2 57 10|Playoffs2 0 11
 2016-2017 HPK U20U20 SM-sarja10 1 45 0|Playoffs10 1 1011
  HPKLiiga24 3 25 10|        
  LeKiMestis22 1 67 8|        
  Finland U20 (all)International-Jr3 0 00 0|        
 2017-2018 HPKSpengler Cup3 0 11 0|        
  HPK U20U20 SM-sarja0 0 00 0|Playoffs5 2 13 14 
  HPKLiiga41 4 48 6|        
  LeKiMestis4 0 11 0|        
  Espoo UnitedMestis9 0 33 16|        
  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton PenguinsAHL2 0 00 2|Playoffs1 0 11
  Finland U20 (all)International-Jr8 0 00 2|        
 2018-2019 HPK U20U20 SM-sarja2 0 11 2|        
  HPKLiiga42 1 45 6|Playoffs18 0 00
 2019-2020 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton PenguinsAHL51 1 67 18|        
 2020-2021 PelicansLiiga- - -- -|        
  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton PenguinsAHL- - -- -|        

Highlights