2004-05: Niko Hovinen made his U20 debut with Jokerit while spending much of the season with the U18 squad and played for Team Finland at the U17 World Hockey Challenge. In four U20 games he had a 3.21 GAA and .906 save percentage. In 20 regular season games for Jokerit’s U18 team he had a 1.95 GAA and .936 save percentage. He allowed nine goals in two games at the World Hockey Challenge and had a .891 save percentage.
2005-06: Hovinen was the starter for Jokerit’s U20 squad as a 17-year old but due to ailments, fatigue and a disappointing spring season, was left out of Finland’s lineup for the 2006 U18 World Junior Championships. In 26 games at the U20 level he finished with a 3.12 GAA and .919 save percentage. He skated in 11 games for Jokerit’s U18 team during the regular season and four more games in the playoffs. Hovinen was ranked seventh amongst European goaltenders in Central Scouting’s final rankings and was selected by Minnesota in the fifth round (132nd overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft.
2006-07: Hovinen made his first SM-Liiga appearance for Jokerit while starting for the club’s U20 squad. He allowed 4 goals on 27 shots in his only SM-Liiga start. In 27 games with the U20 squad he was 13-10 with one shutout and had a 2.71 GAA and .917 save percentage. In 5 playoff games he was 2-3 with one shutout and had a 2.38 GAA and .917 save percentage.
2007-08: The year was especially tough as Hovinen struggled to make the jump to the SM-Liiga as a 19-year-old. Hovinen allowed 25 goals in 4 appearances and was 0-2 with a .706 save percentage in four SM-Liiga games. He had some success at the U20 level in the regular season, finishing 14-8 with 2 shutouts and a 2.74 GAA and .905 save percentage in 24 games but was 1-2 in three playoff games with a 4.62 GAA and .890 save percentage. Hovinen was in net for three games during the Finland U20 team’s pre-tournament schedule against Mestis teams but was not selected to the final roster. Hovinen signed a two-year contract with the Lahti Pelicans in June 2008.
2008-09: Numbers-wise, Hovinen did not have a great season in his first year with the Pelicans but he made progress developmentally in his first season outside the Helsinki spotlight. In 21 games with the tenth-place club he was 7-12-1 with two shutouts and had a 2.92 GAA and .896 save percentage. Hovinen also played one game for HeKi in Mestis and in 13 games with Pelicans’ U20 squad he was 9-4 with 1 shutout and a 1.99 GAA.
2009-10: Hovinen appeared in 18 games for the Pelicans as a back-up to both Finnish veteran Tommi Nikkila and, for a brief time, one-time Canadiens’ prospect Marc Lamothe. Hovinen was 5-7-3 with one shutout for the twelfth-place Pelicans and had a team-best 2.99 GAA and .914 save percentage. In ten games with HeKi in Mestis he was 4-6 with a 2.65 GAA and .913 save percentage. Hovinen was not tendered a contract offer by the Wild and became an unrestricted free agent.
2010-11: Hovinen was a workhorse for the last-place Pelicans in his third season in Lahti. The 22-year-old appeared in 49 of 60 games for a Pelicans team that won just 19 games and had to avoid relegation in a series with Mestis champion Vaasa Sport. Hovinen finished 17-25-5 with 3 shutouts and had a 2.59 GAA with a .921 save percentage. Hovinen signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers in May 2011.
2011-12: Hovinen returned to Finland after attending camp with the Flyers. His third season in Lahti with Pelicans was a big year both personally and team-wise. Hovinen appeared in 41 games as the club enjoyed its best season ever; one season after finishing last in the SM-Liiga. Hovinen was 21-12-6 with 5 shutouts and had a 2.26 goals against and .921 save percentage. Hampered by a nagging hip injury late in the year, he skated in 8 playoff games as Pelicans reached the finals against JyP. Hovinen was 5-2 with 2 shutouts; posting a 2.30 goals against and .925 save percentage.
2012-13: Hovinen’s first pro season in North America did not go as planned. Sent to the ECHL by the Flyers at the beginning of the year, he appeared in 16 games with the last place Trenton Titans and was 4-6-3 with a 3.14 goals against and .889 save percentage. He was placed on waivers by the Flyers in January and claimed by Edmonton; appearing in ten games with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. Hovinen was 5-3-2 with 1 shutout and had a 2.94 goals against and .892 save percentage with Oklahoma City. The Barons finished third in the South Division and reached the Western Conference finals. Hovinen did not see any action in the playoffs. He was tendered a qualifying offer by the Oilers in July 2013 but is signed to play with Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the KHL for 2013-14.
Standing at over 6'7, Hovinen is a towering presence even in butterfly stance. He is the biggest Finnish goalie of his generation but still its typical member as far as movement goes. Despite his immature but big body he has what it takes to dominate shooters with a butterfly style. He is calm but timid in his style of play: He does not lunge toward the puck forcefully enough and surprisingly gets pushed around. His ability to read the game is still undeveloped, which also hinders his puckhandling. Hovinen has fantastic game-breaking ability and possesses tools for development with few boundaries for his potential.
Hovinen has signed with the Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (Russia) for the 2013-14 season.