The Winnipeg Jets have sent Kristian Vesalainen to HPK in Finland for the time being, loaning him overseas until the 2020-21 season begins. The young forward still has two years remaining on his entry-level contract.
Vesalainen, 21, has had an interesting development path, to say the least. Selected 24th overall in 2017 he stayed in Finland with HPK for the following season, dominating Liiga to the tune of 39 points in 44 games before a late-season trade to Karpat for the playoffs. He ended up helping that team win the league title and starred at the World Juniors, but his first year in the Winnipeg organization didn’t go quite as well.
The young forward started in the NHL but after being sent down to the minor leagues used his European Assignment Clause to go to the KHL. After playing a few months in the KHL and being eliminated quickly in the playoffs, he returned to the AHL to play for the Manitoba Moose again.
That’s where he spent all of 2019-20, scoring 12 goals and 30 points in 60 games. The big winger still has a good chunk of development left before he becomes a real impact player at the NHL level, but he’ll get an early start on his season in a league he has already dominated. Hopefully that gives him the confidence and preparation needed to battle for a roster spot in Jets camp.