The Winnipeg Jets assigned Kristian Vesalainen to Jokerit of the KHL today, with the 19-year-old returning to play in Finland for the rest of the year.
The move has been rumoured for some time now, since his rights were traded from SKA Saint Petersburg a week ago. Since that trade, Vesalainen was briefly brought up from the Manitoba Moose, only to be sent back down, paving his way for a return to Europe.
The move means that the first year of Vesalainen’s entry-level contract will slide over to 2019-20, a move that provides some salary cap relief for the Jets going forward.
Vesalainen appeared in five NHL games this year, scoring one goal before being sent down to the Moose, where he scored three goals and added five assists for eight points in eight games.
The 24th overall pick will not be eligible to return to the Jets until the conclusion of Jokerit’s season.
Jokerit currently sits in second in the Bobrov Division, and third in the Western Conference. Players you might have heard of on the team include captain Peter Regin (243 NHL games with the Senators, Islanders and Blackhawks), Sami Lepistö (176 NHL games with the Capitals, Coyotes, Blue Jackets and Blackhawks) and Jesse Joensuu (129 NHL games with the Islanders and Oilers). They are lead in scoring by Sakari Manninen, who played with Vesalainen in 2016-17 with HPK of the SM-Liiga. Eemeli Räsänen, a 2017 second round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is also on the team.