The Boston Bruins have inked one of their top prospects, signing 2017 first-round pick Urho Vaakanainen to a three-year entry-level contract. The deal will carry a $925K NHL cap hit, plus any performance bonuses that he might achieve.
Vaakanainen, 19, was the 18th-overall selection a year ago and spent the season playing in Finland’s highest league. An extremely talented skater, he uses that ability to easily attack oncoming opponents and shut down rushes well before they even get started. While his offensive game is still raw, he does show a good first pass and can be an effective zone-exit option with the puck on his stick. He registered 11 points in 43 games this season, but there is some potential for even more production there if given a bigger opportunity.
Should Vaakanainen come to North America this season, he’ll likely be ticketed for the Providence Bruins at first where he could adapt to the AHL game before eventually making the jump to the NHL. While that jump to Boston isn’t guaranteed at this point, his first year of development since being drafted went well and there certainly looks like there could be a future for him beside star rookie Charlie McAvoy. Even if Vaakanainen doesn’t turn into a top-pairing option, the Bruins will have several other openings on the blue line over the next three years as they move on to the next wave of defensemen.