Oilers winger Iiro Pakarinen is heading back overseas. A report from Sasha Huttunen and Markku Saarinen of Iltalehti in Finland states that Pakarinen has signed with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL for next season, ending a four-year stint in North America. The term of the contract is not yet known.
The 26-year-old played in 40 games with Edmonton this past season, posting two goals and an assist while logging just over 10 minutes per night in ice time. He was more productive at the minor league level after clearing waivers back in December, recording 13 points (9-4-13) in 18 games with their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.
While he wound up back with the big club down the stretch, the writing was on the wall that Pakarinen was likely to be a player on the fringes in training camp. As a result, he’s chosen to go where he’ll have a bigger role which could help his chances of landing another NHL look down the road. While Edmonton can retain his rights for one more year by qualifying him in June (his required offer is a little over $760K), he will become an unrestricted free agent in July of 2019.
As Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal notes, Pakarinen was one of the more effective penalty killers for the Oilers and with Mark Letestu, who led all Edmonton forwards in shorthanded ice time per game, dealt to Columbus near the trade deadline, GM Peter Chiarelli will likely be on the lookout for some checking help up front in the months to come.