Top 25 Under 25 -
#8 - Kristian Vesalainen
6’4” 209 lbs - Winger - Shoots Left
NHL 2018-2019 Season: 5 GP - 0G - 1A - 1PTS - 0PIM
SM-Liiga Career Stats: 58 GP - 23G - 21A - 44PTS - 6PIM
While his performance in limited ice-time so far this year for the Winnipeg Jets has not exactly been breathtaking, Kristian Vesalainen remains a high end prospect.
Playing in his first pro season in North America, the 19-year-old has one assist in a handful of appearances. That said, it’s hard to do much at less than seven minutes of ice time per night. His linemates Jack Roslovic (one assist) and Mathieu Perreault (no points) can attest to this.
Vesalainen started last year with HPK in the SM-Liiga before being loaned to Kärpät for their post-season push. He scored 43 points in 49 regular season games, and added another eight in 18 playoff games, helping Kärpät to having the best record in the league at the end of the season, and winning the championship at the end of the playoffs. Two banners.
His play, and performance in off-season and pre-season training, lead to him playing the first five games of the year. It seems unlikely, based on performance and how he has been utilized, that the Jets will burn a year of his entry-level contract, but stranger things have happened.
It may be a year or two down the road, but Vesalainen’s skating, shot and speed should make him a top-6 NHL forward in the near future.