Winnipeg Jets Ink Kristian Vesalainen

Jets sign Kristian Vesalainen to three-year contract

The Winnipeg Jets have agreed to terms with 2017 first round pick Kristian Vesalainen on a three-year, entry-level contract with a cap hit of $925,000 and an AAV $1.492,000 per season.

Pos:  LW   Shot:  L
DOB:  June 1, 1999  Born:  Helsinki, Finland
Height:  6′ 3”   Weight:  207
Drafted:  2017   Rnd: 1st   Overall: 24
2017-18:  GP: 49  G: 22  A: 21  Pts: 43  PIM: 6  Plus/Minus: +1

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This past season Kristian Vesalainen played in the SM-liiga with HPK Hameenlinna (44 games) and finished the season winning a Finnish Liiga championship with Karpat (5 reg season and 18 playoff).  Vesalainen played 49 regular season games between Karpat and HPK and finished sixth in the league with 22 goals, adding 21 assists for 43 points.  He also kicked in eight points (4G, 4A) in 18 playoff games.  Vesalainen also competed in the U20 WJC and had six points (2G, 4A) in five games for Team Finland.

Kristian Vesalainen’s stock rose and he put himself into NHL first-round status after his MVP performance at the 2017 World Under-18 Championships where he led the tournament in both goals (6) and points (13).

Analysis:

After a year of seasoning in the SM-liiga, Kristian Vesalainen is ready to try his hand at hockey in North America.  I’m not sure where he fits into the Winnipeg Jets line-up this season and I’m not sure he starts the team with the big club but I think he projects as a top-6 forward.  He seems to look like a left-handed version of Patrik Laine and wouldn’t that be exciting.  Can you imagine one-timers from Laine on the left side and Vesalainen on the right side on the Jets PP?  Lets call him Laine-lite for now.  Like I always say, we can project and predict all we want as to whether a player makes the team or not but ultimately Vesalainen’s play will dictate where he plays.       

Final Thought:

I can’t remember where I heard this but last week it was reported that if Kristian Vesalainen doesn’t make the Winnipeg Jets out of training camp he has a deal to play in the KHL this season.  I can’t see the Winnipeg Jets wanting his.  He would be better off playing in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose and getting used to playing pro hockey on the smaller ice in the AHL.  Also, it’s a lot easier to get called up when you’re playing across the hall. 

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