Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects: No. 20 Jussi Rynnas

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIOctober 29, 2012

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Jussi Rynnas #40 of the Toronto Maple Leafs makes a save against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on September 25, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Note: This is the first installment in a series focused on the Toronto Maple Leafs' top 20 prospects. The rankings are those of and not those of the author.

The story of Jussi Rynnas is an inspiring one, filled with hard work and defying the odds.

Rynnas was never really considered an elite goaltending prospect in his days playing in the junior ranks in his native Finland.

In fact, once he was done playing in the junior ranks, Rynnas couldn't find a job as a goalie anywhere except for the Finnish third division.

From there Rynnas played his way back into the SM-liiga (Finland's most competitive league) with Assat, where he used his 6'5" frame and improved game to post a 2.48 GAA and impressive .927 save percentage in 2009-10.

It was at that point that the Finnish netminder garnered the attention of NHL scouts, with several clubs showing interest.

Rynnas decided to sign a two-year entry-level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His time with the Leafs organization has been fairly well spent, as he's improved each season that he's been with the team.

In 2010-11, Rynnas played in 30 games for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, putting up a 2.71 GAA and .911 save percentage.

Not necessarily bad numbers for a goalie in his first season playing professional hockey in North America.

Last year, Rynnas got the call for just 22 Marlies games, posting a GAA of 2.55 and a save percentage of .910.

While his 3.21 GAA in 14 games suiting up for the Reading Royals (Toronto's ECHL affiliate) wasn't all that impressive, one must look to his .914 save percentage to realize that the blame lay more with the team's defensive core than Rynnas.

Unfortunately for the 25-year-old prospect, this NHL lockout has taken away his shot at a full season as the Toronto Marlies' starting goalie, with Ben Scrivens assuming those duties until the NHL returns and he's called upon to back up Leafs' starter James Reimer.

So far, he's played in two games, registering a GAA of 1.44 and save percentage of .952, collecting a shutout in one of those contests.

Rynnas is hoping that the NHL season kicks off shortly, so he can return to carrying the load for the Marlies and prove just how far his game has come since he arrived in Toronto.