At the end of the 2010-2011 NHL season, the Anaheim Ducks signed Finnish free agent Iiro Tarkki to a one-year entry-level contract. Playing for the Espoo Blues in the SM-liiga, not much was known about the undrafted netminder. At the conditioning camp scrimmage, The Anaheim Ducks Report got a great look at the new goalie.
Read on for our full analysis and some video…
Last year with the Espoo Blues, Tarkki had an even 20-20 record in 55 games played. He had an impressive 5 shutouts and an outstanding 2.09 GAA. His impressive play continued into the playoffs with three more shutouts in just 18 games. Tarkki finished the playoffs with a 2.19 GAA as the Blues lost in the finals.
At 26 years old, Tarkki is much older than his conditioning camp counterparts John Gibson (17) and Igor Bobkov (20). However, Tarkki is three years younger than Jonas Hiller and can still be considered a very young goaltender with plenty of experience in the Finnish junior and elite leagues.
One of the most notable things about Tarkki is his relaxed stature in the crease. This was by no means a negative, as he never appeared inattentive. Rather, he looked comfortable in net and exuded confidence.
Like Gibson, Tarkki stands at 6’3″ but plays a much different style. While Gibson is much more stiff and technical, Tarkki is loose and relaxed. His stance is narrower and his whole body is very compact, preventing pucks from squeezing through any holes. Tarkki has quick feet and a very fast glove, so even though he plays a more compact style, he can explode outwards to cover the net.
The most impressive trait about Tarkki is his focus. Don’t be fooled by his relaxed style. Whenever the puck comes into his zone, Tarkki sets himself by tapping his gloves together. Why is this important? It’s just a small mannerism that keeps the goalie in the zone. Mannerisms give goalies a physical reaction that their bodies automatically do to pull their minds back into focus before they wander off. Read more about the mind of a goalie in this terrific article written by our friends at The Goalie Guild.
Tarkki displayed an excellent ability to track the puck around traffic. Whether he is on his feet or on his knees, he finds a way to look around bodies and locate the puck and make the stop. With his quick feet, Tarkki is able to move swiftly around his crease using short, fast shuffles to adjust his positioning. He also stands further out, often making saves outside of the blue paint.
His aggressive positioning also translates into his stick work, as he showed that he is not afraid to play the puck. Tarkki used both full, diving poke checks (as seen in the video below) and half poke checks to keep pucks away from the crease. He was also quick to leave the net to confidently move the puck to his defensemen.
In a very wide-open 4-on-4 scrimmage, Tarkki faced a number of breakaways and was up to the task. He had great patience and impressed with his abilities in 1-on-1 situations.
The young Finnish goaltender was tasked with backstopping the younger, less-experienced White Team in the scrimmage and eventually conceded a 6-8 loss to the older Black Team.
There is a lot to like about Iiro Tarkki, and it will be interesting to see where he plays next year and beyond. Much is up in the air as he only has a one-year contract. With Jonas Hiller and Dan Ellis under contract for 2011-2012, signs point to Tarkki heading to the AHL. With his age, experience, and confident demeanor, he could be an excellent mentor for the Ducks’ younger goaltending prospects.