A former-Calgary Flames top goalie prospect is heading to Finland for a tryout with the Finnish club Jokerit of the SM-liiga. Leland Irving, who the Flames took in the first-round, 26th overall, of the 2006 Entry Draft, leaves only playing 13 NHL games.
The website for Jokerit says that Irving, 25, and a center, Philip DeSimone, 26, formerly of the Washington Capitals organization whose never played in the NHL, are going to Finland for a “month-long probation.” That wasn't in the plans as Irving had once been considered the heir apparent to Miikka Kiprusoff, the Finish superstar who has retired, though that has yet to be officially announced.
Leland Irving: Flame sizzles out
In his 13 NHL games, all for the Flames, 6 coming last season, Irving was 3-4-4 with a 3.25 GAA and a .902 SP. He played 149 games in the AHL for the Abbotsford Heat and was 69-61-8. Some of his more impressive numbers are his 1.86 GAA, 11 shutouts and .929 SP for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL in 2006-07 and his 30 wins and 8 shutouts for the Heat in 2010-11.
The Flames crease is too-crowded for Irving, though proven, first-string goalies are not in the mix. Already signed to fight for the two spots are Joey MacDonald, Karri Ramo, Reto Berra, Laurent Brossoit and Joni Ortio.
MacDonald did some good things for Calgary when picked up off waivers from Detroit last season but is 33 and has bounced around and never been a first-stringer in the NHL. Of the others, Ramo, 27, who played in the KHL the last five seasons, has the most NHL experience, having played 48 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Finnish offer of a tryout appears to be the best Irving, an unrestricted free agent, was given by any professional league.