Welcome back to yet another installment of Pack Attack!
Today the spotlight is on 25 year old Finnish defender Sami Lepistö.
Born in Espoo, Finland (a suburb of Finnish capital city Helsinki). Sami’s father Jussi Lepistö is a former captain of Jokerit in the SM-liigaand a former Finnish International Team player. Sami followed in his fathers footsteps playing for Jokerit from 2003 to the end of the 2006-07 season.
During his time with Jokerit Sami played in 190 games and racking up 19 goals and 164 penalty minutes. In the four seasons he spent with the club Jokerit qualified for the playoffs in three of the seasons – even came in second place earning Lepistö an SM-liiga silver medal in 2005. During the 2005 campaign he tallied 55 regular season games with 25 points and 44 penalty minutes, in the post season he added 8 points in 12 games making him the highest-scoring defenseman in the playoffs. The following season Jokerit failed to make it to the post season; however, Lepistö was in the top five for defenseman in scoring around the league.
The 2004 NHL Entry Draft saw Lepistö selected in the 3rd round (66th overall) by the Washington Capitals; and signed a two-year entry-level contract with the team in May of 2007. Spending most of the 2007-08 season with the Capitals’ affiliate team the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) he did appear in 7 games with the Capitals that season earning 1 assist and 12 penalty minutes (compared this is 55 AHL games with 45 points and 51 penalty minutes).
The 2008-09 season saw Lepistö back with the Bears for 70 games. This time he only racked up 42 points but increased his penalties to 80 for the regular season. For the second season in a row he only saw the ice for 7 games with the Capitals this time assisting on 4 goals and cutting his time in the box down to only 6 minutes. The Bears went on to win the Calder Cup as the champions of the American Hockey League (Not to be confused with the NHL Calder Memorial Trophy given to the NHL Rookie of the year).
On June27, 2009 he was traded by the Washington Capitals to the Phoenix Coyotes in return for a fifth round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.
Phoenix gave the young defenseman the shot he deserved in the NHL. Playing in 66 regular season games along with all 7 first round play off games against the Detroit Red Wings. Lepistö scored 1 goal in the regular season which just happened to be on January 30, 2010 the same night that his idle Teppo Numminen (countryman and former Coyotes defenseman from 1988-2003) had his number retired by the Coyotes. Going on to round out the regular season he has 10 assist and 60 penalty minutes. In his 7 playoff appearances he caught Calder Memorial Trophy finalist goaltender Jimmy Howard off guard and score his only goal (and point) of the post season.
As for International play Lepistö has represented Team Finland (Leijonat – translates to “The Lions”) in three separate competitions. 2004 World Junior Championship, 2008 World Championship and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. In all three tournaments Lepistö won a bronze medal. Here you can see him with his Olympic medal after rejoining the Coyotes. At the 2004 World Junior Championship Lepistö was awarded the best defenseman in the tournament along with named a tournament All-Star.
On July 1, 2010 Sami Lepistö became a Restricted Free Agent; however, the Phoenix Coyotes announced the following day that they had resigned Lepistö to a one-year contract.
Nähdään myöhemmin! (See you later!)