When the Winnipeg Jets selected Kristian Vesalainen with the 24th overall pick, it was lauded as a smart pick. Now that the dust has settled, it is still a smart pick. Vesalainen has left the Swedish Elite League to go back to the Finnish Liiga. This is a decision based on the fact he wants to play for the first team and not in the junior league this season.
As a player Vesalainen is skilled and has the capabilities to be a scorer. He has been playing against men for a couple years now while still playing in the Swedish junior league on and off. He also played for the Finnish junior team and is a solid bet at making this years World Under-20 roster again. He will hopefully continue to get opportunities playing for a new team in Finland.
Tim: Kristian Vesalainen possesses a great mix of size, speed and skill. He can deke, he can shoot and he thinks the game well too. He really is the complete package from the skill perspective. That said, he's still very raw and he's got a long way to go before he's proven himself in the pro game. The Jets are also in a position to be patient with Vesalainen. Unless he absolutely crushes Liiga next year, Jets fans are likely a few years away from seeing him first hand.
Brian: A player I never thought I'd have to discuss. The Jets taking a winger with their first round pick this year is something I didn't expect, but after looking at some numbers, I think this is a pretty good pick. He might be a long term project though, so who knows when we actually see him in the NHL.
Andy: The Winnipeg Jets see Vesalainen as a long term project. I don't. I see him as making the club out of training camp in the '18-'19 season. Why? He's a smart player, who uses his size and reach to his advantage. His disadvantage is that he needs to grow and mature into the game. I'm hoping he can put it together this season in Finland.