TORONTO– Due to an ankle injury, training camp ended early for Leafs prospect Jussi Rynnas. Fortunately for him and the Toronto Marlies, he is back out on the ice practicing and feeling much improved.
“It’s going better,” said Rynnas when asked about his recovery. “It’s not 100 percent but it’s pretty good. It’ll take a couple more days and then I’ll be ready.”
Taking shots during Marlies practice, everything about the Finland native looked to be just fine however one problem seemed to still bother him; making it difficult to play to his fullest capability.
“I’m a little bit late getting across the ice. It’s hard to push, hard to stop. That’s pretty much the problem.”
Last season the Toronto Marlies work load, in net, was predominately shared between three men; James Reimer, Ben Scrivens and Rynnas.
The year started with Reimer and Rynnas paired on the Marlies while Scrivens sat fifth on the Leafs depth chart and played in the East Coast Hockey League for the Reading Royals.
Rynnas had a great start to the season statistically and earned an AHL Player of the Week award in mid November while sharing starting duties with Reimer.
But inconsistency led to less ice time and after being pulled in a 9-3 loss to the Chicago Wolves on January 5th, the 24 year old would only start two more games that month.
Then in early February Rynnas broke a finger on his catching hand during practice, leading to six more weeks off the ice.
In all, the Finnish free agent only managed 30 games in his first season of North American hockey compiling a record of 10-15-3 with a 2.71 GAA and .911 SV%.
All the games Rynnas lost to injury last year went to Scrivens and the Cornell University grad didn’t hesitate to show he too can play every day with the Marlies. Combining Scrivens most recent play with how quickly Reimer emerged last season and Rynnas seems to have fallen back on the Leafs radar.
None of the other goalie prospects success, however, seems to rattle him.
“I don’t take any pressure with that,” said Rynnas when asked about other prospects elevating their game. “I just practice every day and when I get a chance to play I want to be as good as I can be.”
Built from the same mould as Reimer and Scrivens, Rynnas spent time heading into training camp working with Francois Allaire and believes Allaire’s wisdom will get him to the NHL.
“I try to do everything he wants,” he said when asked about his relationship with Allaire. “It takes some time to learn everything but it’s going the right way.”
Like Jonas Gustavsson before him, Rynnas was a highly regarded European free agent goalie and standing 6’5” has the size to play the Leafs goalie system.
When Leafs training camp wraps up, it’s more than reasonable to think that Rynnas and Scrivens will be splitting duties with the Marlies to start the season.
And if he can stay healthy, Rynnas will be given more than a fair opportunity by head coach Dallas Eakins to prove his worth to the Leafs organization.
But that’s only if he can stay healthy.
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