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No. 17 Eetu Makiniemi: Can he stay healthy?

It’s back to back goaltenders on Fear the Fin’s Top 25 Under 25 list and today is Eetu Makiniemi’s day. Most fans are going to ask, why him over Magnus Chrona? Honestly, the only thing that seemed to tip the scales in Makiniemi’s favor was his handful of minutes with the Sharks last season.

Position: Goaltender
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 184 lbs.
Age: 24
Date of Birth: April 19, 1999
Draft Year: 2017, 104th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes
Catches: Left
2023-24 Team: San Jose Barracuda

Makiniemi played 85 minutes for San Jose last season and didn’t, to use the technical term, suck. He won the single game he started, albeit against another bottom of the league team in the Anaheim Ducks. Makiniemi stopped 24 shots in the Dec. 9, 2022 game, allowed just one goal and finished with a .958 save percentage. San Jose beat the Ducks 6-1 on that cool December night.

For a majority of last season, Makiniemi played with the Barracuda. He went 8-10-3 with a .900 save percentage. Sadly, he didn’t get a chance to finish out the season. He was shutdown in February to have season-ending surgery on a torn labrum.

The injury does not seem to concern the Sharks, who re-signed Makiniemi to a one-year, two-way contract over the summer.

“We are excited to sign Eetu,” said General Manager Mike Grier. “He is a player who showed great promise before his injury last season. We look forward to his continued development in the upcoming year.”

What we like

The Sharks traded for Makiniemi in 2022. He was part of the deal that sent Brent Burns and Lane Pederson to the Carolina Hurricanes. Up until that trade, our friends at Canes Country were high on the young goaltending prospect.

“His athleticism and strong pushes give him the ability to make key saves that some other goalies can’t,” wrote Matthew Somma at the end of the 2022 season.

Makiniemi is skilled at protecting the bottom of the net. He’s well-sized for a goalie, though not as big as a player like Chrona. Still, that 6-foot-2 frame helps him cover the entire bottom of the net from the butterfly position.

His reaction time is also excellent as exhibited in this video from a few years ago.

Makiniemi seems to excel when the puck is in close, and there’s a “mass of humanity” in front of him. In the clip below, you can’t see the puck; there are too many people there. But you can see that Makiniemi makes the save.

A big thanks to Canes Country for pulling these highlights together.

Areas of improvement

So, if Makiniemi’s so good, why in the world did the Hurricanes agree to package him into the deal for Burns? A couple of reasons.

First, he was passed on the team’s depth chart by Pyotr Kochetkov, a goaltender from Russia who excelled in the KHL, put up excellent numbers in the AHL and performed well in a limited showing in 2021-22 with the Hurricanes. Makiniemi suddenly became the odd man out.

Second, Makiniemi has struggled to stay healthy. One of the reasons Kochetkov had the opportunity to shine was because Makiniemi was not always healthy.

In 2021-22, Makiniemi played just 14 games for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He played well in those games, but a back injury sidelined him. Makiniemi ended up having surgery on his back and he was out for the remainder of the season.

Makiniemi was still recovering from that back surgery when the Burns trade happened. The Finnish netminder did not play in any of the Sharks’ 2022-23 preseason games, though he was on the ice for the Barracuda early on in the season.

And in February, he was injured again.

For Makiniemi, the key to whether or not he makes it onto an NHL roster may simply come down to whether or not he can stay healthy.


San Jose Barracuda fans have already been treated to some of the excellent saves courtesy of Makiniemi, but here are a few for everyone to enjoy.

And then this one here to keep the Barracuda in the lead.

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