Last week, the polar bears once again organized a so-called development camp together with the Los Angeles Kings. Numerous talents from home and abroad auditioned under the supervision of experienced NHL coaches to recommend themselves for higher tasks.
And in the case of 20-year-old Finnish goalkeeper Juho Markkanen, this concept has worked. On Wednesday, the Berliners announced that they had signed the goalkeeper for a year.
In the organization, Markkanen is no longer a stranger. Last year, the Kings drafted the 112th goaltender in the fourth round of the NHL draft. In order to gain match practice, Markkanen initially guarded the goal of the Finnish first division club SaiPa Lappeenranta last season, later he went to HC Lugano in Switzerland.
So now the path leads him to the polar bears, which also resulted from the close bond between the polar bears and the kings.
“Juho Markkanen is a young and very talented goaltender who wants to take the next step in his NHL career with us. He has enormous potential, which he also demonstrated at our development camp,” said sports director Stéphane Richer in the club’s press release. “With him, as well as Tobias Ancicka and Nikita Quapp, we have three hugely talented goalkeepers under contract and are very well positioned as a goalkeeper.”
After Mathias Niederberger switched to final opponent Red Bull Munich, the polar bears decided against signing a clear number one, but are instead launching a competition for the most important position in the team.
While Quapp is likely to be used primarily by cooperation partner Lausitzer Füchse, Ancicka has a real opportunity to take the next step in development, after fulfilling his back-up role very satisfactorily last season. Although Markkanen will be a tough opponent as a Finnish U18 and U20 goalkeeper.
The polar bears already dared to experiment with starting the season with young keepers in 2018. At that time they started with Maximilian Franzreb and Marvin Cüpper, but later signed Kevin Poulin as the experienced number one. The Berliners are convinced that the plan is now working. In any case, the observations at the Development Camp were pleasing.