August 14, 2011

The Littlest Hulk

When the Edmonton Oilers entered the NHL in 1979, they embraced players from Finland more so than other organizations. They had great success with Jari Kurri, and also with the likes of Matti Hagman and Risto Siltanen.

The St. Louis Blues actually drafted Siltanen in 1978, but he remained in Finland until joining the WHA Edmonton Oilers later in the year. The Blues retained his NHL rights upon the Oilers merger with the NHL, but traded him to Edmonton before the season started. Siltanen was in the lineup for the Oilers first ever NHL game.

In the Oilers early days prior to Paul Coffey's emergence, it was Siltanen who assumed the offensive dman's role. One of the earlier European imports, Risto Siltanen was a very good offensive presence from the blue line. He was an excellent skater both in terms of speed and agility. He liked to rush the puck out of the zone, as his passing game was only average. He was a terrific stickhandler, though he could be pressured into holding the puck longer than he should have. He was reluctant to give up or dump the puck out of his zone without making a play.

Here's the full Risto Siltanen biography.

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