The Seattle Kraken signed forward Ville Petman in June of 2022 to help fill out the Coachella Valley Firebirds roster and to see if maybe this “late bloomer” could develop an NHL calibre game. It’s tough to call him a prospect at age-23, but then again he wouldn’t be the first player in history to figure things out and develop a bit later than others.
Petman eventually progressed in pro hockey back in Finland before joining the North American ranks this season in the American Hockey League. He’s helped get the Firebirds to within two wins of the Calder Cup championship, playing in all 21 playoff games and chipping in five goals and four assists. That followed a rookie regular season that saw him tally 28 points in 72 games.
As a free agent of a slightly advanced age, Petman signed a two-year, entry-level contract last summer that pays him $80,000 at the minor league level. That’s where he’ll be next season as well, but with some added confidence and familiarity to go with it.
Petman started playing against men in Finland’s top professional league, SM Liiga, as an 18-year-old in 2018. Not a whole lot clicked in his first three pro’ seasons, with a disappointing 2020 World Junior Championship tournament popping up along the way that saw him notch just one point in the course of seven games. Finland got bounced by rival Sweden 3-2 in the Bronze Medal game.
Suddenly in 2021-’22, while playing his second season for his hometown Liiga team in Lappeenranta, something clicked. He put up 15 goals and 39 points in 59 games after posting a grand total of just 13 points over the course of the previous three seasons.
That performance earned him the Seattle Kraken contract.
In a way he’s very similar to his fellow Firebird and fellow Finn, defenseman Peetro Seppala. The Kraken went Koo Koo to sign that player for a similar two-year deal, one month ahead of Petman. After four-plus seasons with Koo Koo Kouvola in SM Liiga and a similar break-out year scoring-wise (29 points in 57 games from the back-end), Seattle Kraken General Manager Ron Francis snagged the free agent blueliner.
Seppala’s first year in the AHL worked out just as well as Petman’s in terms of being a steady performer, but not well enough to crack the playoff roster like his countryman.
Pros and Cons
There’s a lot working against Ville Petman. He’s a bit under-sized at 5-foot-10 and 180-pounds. A Seattle Kraken fan might bring up the stature of Yanni Gourde, but Petman doesn’t have Gourde’s skill-set or his snarl.
Petman is also up against it in terms of competition, and we’re not just talking about Gourde and the other current NHLers, but the widening crop of forwards looking to make an impression while coming up in the Seattle Kraken organization.
The one thing that Petman does have that’s somewhat Gourde-esque is determination. Seen in his recent development and in his accompanying productivity, there’s appears to be no quit in this pivot’s desire.
“Late bloomer” indeed.
The Seattle Kraken are hoping that trend, and the development they’ve seen in the AHL this season and in the Calder Cup playoffs, continues.
“Ville had a good year last season in Finland’s top league and combines offensive and defensive instincts,” Francis said at the time of Petman’s signing. “We like his competitiveness and ability to play with an edge and welcome him to the Kraken organization.”
If enough things fall into place, at one point or another next season, even if it’s just for a stint, Petman will be hoping to hear, “welcome to the Kraken”.