Friday: The Hurricanes have officially announced the signing. The deal comes with an $832,500 salary in the NHL. New GM Don Waddell had this to say about his newest prospect:
Saku is a big, strong winger who can really skate. Our scouting staff has been tracking this player for a long time. He had options when it came to where he would start his NHL career, and we’re pleased he has chosen Carolina.
Thursday: According to a Finnish news source (and seemingly confirmed by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet), the Carolina Hurricanes have signed Saku Maenalanen to an entry-level contract. Maenalanen is currently playing for Finland at the World Championships, after a breakout season with Karpat. The 23-year old would be limited to a one-year entry-level contract due to his age.
Maenalanen was originally selected in the fifth round by the Nashville Predators in 2013, but never signed with the club and eventually became an unrestricted free agent. Some time developing in Finland did him well, as he scored 46 points in 59 games this season as one of the top offensive players in the entire league. That was followed by a solid postseason that concluded with a third Liiga championship for the young player. The performance on the biggest stage isn’t surprising, as many will remember his seven-goal performance at the 2014 World Juniors, where he won gold playing on a line with fellow Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen.
That familiarity may come in handy if Maenalanen cracks the Carolina roster, as he likely would be used in an offensive role in the NHL. The 6’4″ winger has great hands around the net and can find weak spots in the defensive coverage. There’s no guarantee that he’ll jump right to the NHL, but his solid performance at the current Worlds is only helping his case.