Riku Helenius, G
Hometown: Palkane, FIN
Drafted: 2006 by Tampa Bay Lightning, 15th overall
February 2014 – Tampa Bay decided to place Riku Helenius on unconditional waivers with the intention of terminating his contract. Shortly after being assigned to the team’s ECHL affiliate last month, Helenius voluntarily abandoned the team without warning. Tampa Bay then suspended him internally and Brisebois was quoted as saying he tried “aggressively” to find a new home for Helenius. Randall Buschmann
January 2014 – After a lackluster start to the season, Helenius was demoted from Syracuse of the American Hockey League to Tampa Bay’s ECHL affiliate. He’s had a tough time adjusting to the quality of competition in North America and has failed to earn the trust of Lightning management. Kristers Gudlevskis, a 2013 draftee, has essentially passed Helenius on Tampa Bay’s depth chart, making Helenius the fifth ranked goalie in the organization moving forward. Don’t be surprised if he’s back in Finland next season. Randall Buschmann
June 2013 – Helenius’ first return season to the American Hockey League should be considered lackluster at best. He failed to win the starting role to start the season and couldn’t take it away from Dustin Tokarski during the season. Then Tokarski was traded to Montreal for Cedrick Desjardins, and Helenius continued to serve as a backup. Helenius finished the season with a 17-14-0 record, 2.57 goals against average and .900 save percentage. He was unable to earn a single minute of playing time during the Syracuse Crunch’s long playoff run. Helenius’ playing future is up in the air at this point. He is on a one-way contract for the 2013-14 season and no longer waiver exempt, meaning he’d have to pass through waivers to be sent down to the AHL again. While there’s a good chance he’d pass through waivers unclaimed, the Lightning may consider alternate options for him instead of paying him $650,000 to play in the minors. Randy Buschmann
January 2012 – Riku Helenius is back in North America after spending the last two years playing for JYP in Finland’s top league. Helenius was named the SM-liiga top goaltender and helped anchor his team to the league title. He then came to terms with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal this past summer and is currently the backup for Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Helenius is a fiery competitor who relies on his excellent size and quickness to make saves. Through 15 appearances, Helenius statistics (8-6-0, 2.96 GAA, .883 SV%, 2 shutouts) leave plenty of room for improvement. Helenius’s highlight of the season thus far was fighting Ottawa prospect Robin Lehner on opening night back in October. Randy Buschmann
Having not shown he can be depended on even at the American Hockey League level, Helenius is the new poster boy for “first round bust”. Be surprised if he ever plays in North America again.
Riku Helenius fights Robin Lehner
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