Getting to Know New Boston Bruin Joonas Korpisalo – The Hockey Writers – Boston Bruins

It has been close to a week since the Boston Bruins traded netminder Linus Ullmark to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Joonas Korpisalo, Mark Kastelic, and the 25th overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft. The trade received mixed reviews from analysts and fans alike, with most arguing that the Bruins should have received a better haul for their goalie who is just a season removed from a Vezina-winning campaign. There is, however, reason to be optimistic about the arrival of Korpisalo. Here is a look back on his career thus far.

Early Years

Korpisalo was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the 62nd overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. After his draft year, he continued to play in his home country of Finland. In 2014-15 he became the starting goalie for Ilves Tampere of the SM-liiga, the country’s top league. That season, he established himself as one of the top goaltending prospects playing in Europe, as he posted a save percentage (SV%) of .920 and an impressive goals-against average (GAA) of 2.34. The Blue Jackets had seen enough: they called him over to the United States at the end of the season, where he would appear in three games for the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Joonas Korpisalo Columbus Blue Jackets
Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Korpisalo split time between the Blue Jackets and their AHL affiliate the Lake Erie Monsters in 2015-16, winning the Calder Cup for the latter. He looked at home during his time playing at the NHL level, posting a SV% of .920 during that season. By the end of 2016-17, he had cemented himself as the backup behind Sergei Bobrovsky, and he played that role very well for multiple seasons: from 2015-16 to 2018-19 he provided a serviceable backup for the Blue Jackets, posting a SV% that hovered around .900 year-to-year. 

Jump to Starting Role

When Bobrovsky signed a contract with the Florida Panthers before the 2019-20 season, Korpisalo jumped into the starting role in Columbus. Despite battling a knee injury for most of the campaign that limited him to just 37 games, he seemed to take the jump to become the first option well; his .911 SV% and 2.60 GAA earned him a two-year contract extension worth $11.2 million.

Related: Analyzing the Bruins’ Return for Linus Ullmark

Korpisalo was named the postseason starter for the Blue Jackets ahead of the 2020 NHL Playoffs. He did not disappoint. In the team’s first round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Korpisalo recorded two shutouts in seven days, burying the Maple Leafs in five games. He followed this performance up by setting the record for the highest number of saves recorded in an NHL game with 85 in a quintuple overtime Game 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Blue Jackets went on to get swept in that series, his numbers were terrific. In nine postseason games, he posted a .941 SV% and a 1.90 GAA. 

Recent Struggles

Korpisalo took a step back following his heroic postseason effort. In each of the following three years, he allowed over three goals per game and never started more than 33 contests. It was time for a change of scenery. The Blue Jackets traded him to the Los Angeles Kings along with Vladislav Gavrikov in exchange for Jonathan Quick and two draft picks. He finished the regular season strong in Los Angeles, winning seven of 11 games, however, he was unable to help the team advance in the first round, losing in six to the Edmonton Oilers. Korpisalo went on to sign with the Ottawa Senators as a free agent in the 2023 offseason. His lone season in Ottawa did not go as planned. He registered just 21 wins in 55 starts and allowed 3.27 goals per game, posting a meager SV% of .890.

Positive Outlook

There are reasons to believe that Korpisalo will improve this season. The team in front of him in Ottawa was not nearly as good as the team he is coming to in Boston. On top of that, he will likely be asked to start around 30 games, not 55. In previous years Korpisalo has had the pressure of being the top guy and trying to recreate his stellar play from earlier in his career. Being the backup in Boston may take some of the pressure off and allow him to find his game. He is just 30 years old and has a very high ceiling; Bruins fans should be hopeful that this trade will work out for the best.

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