The Winnipeg Jets announced today that Kristian Vesalainen has been reassigned to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, now that his KHL season has come to an end. Vesalainen was loaned to Jokerit earlier this season after failing to catch on as a full-time member of the Jets. Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun notes that Vesalainen is not expected to play tonight for the Moose as he is still travelling back from Finland.
Vesalainen, 19, ended up with 17 points in 31 games for Jokerit, solid production for a player his age. That came after starting the year with eight points in eight games for the Moose, and notching his first NHL point with the Jets in a short five-game stint. The 24th overall pick from 2017 figures to be a big part of the Jets down the road, but will first try to help the Moose land a playoff spot.
Part of the reason the Jets have been able to afford selling their first round selections the last two seasons is because of players like Vesalainen. As the team decides how to pay all of their young stars, the next wave of talent will have to fill the gaps on inexpensive entry-level deals. That could provide an opportunity as soon as next season for Vesalainen, whose contract is going to slide forward this season if he doesn’t suit up five more times for the Jets down the stretch. That would mean he won’t become a restricted free agent until the summer of 2022.