Goaltender Jussi Markkanen agreed to a contract today,
terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Markkanen had been considering
whether to return to his native Finland this season, but a June 30th trade sent
him from Edmonton to New York with a conditional 4th round pick in exchange for
the rights to Brian Leetch. Markkanen made $725,000 last season and was
due a ten percent raise as a qualifying offer.
The 28 year old netminder was drafted in the fifth round
of the 2001 draft, by the Edmonton Oilers and has appeared in 36 NHL games in
two professional seasons. He finished his Edmonton stint with a record of
13-12-5 and save percentages of .929 and .904 respectively. Last year
Markkanen recorded a 2.59 Goals Against Average, but with his salary and the
progression of Ty Conklin within the Oiler organization, it appeared as if
General Manager Kevin Lowe would not offer him a deal.
It is expected that Markkanen will compete with Dan
Blackburn for the backup role to Mike Dunham, with Glen Sather already
suggesting that Blackburn may spend time in Hartford this season.