In a shock to many Winnipeg Jets and Jokerit’s Kristian Vesalainen has turned down the invitation to join Finlands WJC squad.
#NHLJets prospect Kristian Vesalainen will not join Team #Finland for #WJC2019. Vesalainen chose to play for #Jokerit in the #KHL.— Pekka Jalonen (@PekkaJalonen) December 15, 2018
It was Kristian Vesalainen’s own decision to abstain, but with the season he has had it is a decision that is understandable. Vesalainen went to NHL as a Finnish champion after a stellar season where he scored 43 points (22+21) 49 games in Liiga, but was used sparingly in Kärpät during the playoffs where he scored eight points (4+4) in 18 games. In the season with the Winnipeg organization he managed one assist in five games with the Jets and had eight points (3+5) in eight games with the Manitoba Moose.
Having gone back to his native Finland to join the KHL team Jokerit form Helsinki as a development year, Vesalainen started as strong as he did in AHL, with five points(3+2) in six games). However crossing the Siberian tundra in order to go back to Canada for the WJC would have meant that he would have missed out on a large chunk of the KHL season with Jokerit. Playing in KHL with Jokerit during the WJC is probably better for his development as KHL is a better competition over all.
Vesalainen has been in some controversies before, but staying to help a club that helped him out of a tough spot this season should not count as a controversy, on the the other hand it should show that Vesalainen is taking the responsibility and has matured. The fact that Vesalainen plays in KHL also protects him in the Seattle Expansion Draft, something that Jets fans should come to appreciate down the line.