Hannu Toivonen joined fellow countryman Matti Kaltiainen as a Bruin high draft choice in 2002. During 2001-02, he played 31 games for HPK Hameenlinna of Finland’s junior A division league and finished with a .911 save percentage. He then helped Finland win the bronze medal in the 2002 WJC with an amazing .930 save percentage and 2.23 goals against. In June of that year, Toivonen became the first round draft choice of the Bruins.
In 2002-03, he joined the SM Liiga, Finland’s elite league, where he played 24 games for HPK Hameenlinna. At one point of the season, Toivonen had a 13-game unbeaten streak, and would complete the season with a .911 save percentage and 2.26 goals against.
2003-04: Toivonen crossed the ocean for the 2003-04 season and signed with the Providence Bruins where he quickly acclimated himself to the AHL. He played in 36 games and ended with a 15-16-4 record, finishing 17th in the league among goaltenders. He totaled 972 saves that season, and finished with 2.30 goals against and a .921 save percentage.
2004-05: Toivonen returned to Providence for 2004-05 where he became their No. 1 goaltender. Having adjusted to the American game, he went on to have a spectacular season, finishing 29-18-3 with 2.05 goals against, .932 save percentage, and seven shutouts. League-wide, he improved his standings from 17th to seventh amongst goaltenders, this after sustaining a knee injury that would require reconstructive surgery, and missing 13 games. Toivonen would also lead the Bruins deep into the playoffs for a 17-game campaign, where he earned a 10-7 record, 505 saves and 2.43 goals against.
2005-06: Toivonen made his NHL debut and did not disappoint. The poised and confident rookie demonstrated his quick reflexes, flexibility and the ability to make timely saves. He appeared in 20 games before his season was cut short by an upper ankle injury in early January. In those 20 games he earned a 9-5-4 record with a 2.63 goals against average and .914 percentage. In his second appearance of the season, Toivonen was left to mop up a 4-0 deficit when he took over the net for Raycroft in the second period, and though he stopped 17 of 18 shots, Boston’s offense offered little help and they dropped the 5-1 decision to Ottawa. The next time he faced Ottawa, he would earn a 3-0 shutout. He would have his finest stats versus the Senators, and perhaps somewhat ironically, it would be during a game against Ottawa that he would sustain his season-ending injury.
2006-07: Things did not go smoothly for goaltender Hannu Toivonen, who, after a highly promising debut in the 2005-06 season, wasn’t able to grasp the starting role coming out of the gates in the 2006-07 season. The biggest issue for Toivonen was the time missed from the ankle injury suffered last season. When he entered training camp in September of 2006, he hadn’t made a start since January. Toivonen only appeared in 18 games for Boston in the 2006-07 season, during which he had a record of 3-9-1 with a .875 save percentage and 4.23 GAA
Following a couple brief assignments earlier in the year, Hannu Toivonen rejoined Providence in early March, where he would finish out the majority of the regular season. Toivonen would finally get the substantial playing time that he needed, and overall, has performed much better as time progressed. He appeared in 27 games for Providence, during which he posted two shutouts and owned a 13-13-1 record. His goals against average leveled out at 2.37, and his save percentage at .909.
Toivonen fills the net playing a butterfly style modeling himself after Patrick Roy. He’s quick, with good feet, and smooth in his movements. He has a weakness to the high shot as all butterfly goalies do and is working to overcome the problem. Toivonen is not easily rattled and performs well in high pressure situations.
Toivonen has demonstrated a tremendous work ethic and maturity, and steadily improved since he came to the States.
Toivonen has returned to North America in 2013-14 to take another shot at the pro game, this time with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.