The Jets have decided to give Saku Maenalanen another opportunity in North America as CapFriendly reports (Twitter link) that they’ve signed the center to a one-year, two-way deal. The contract will pay $750K in the NHL and $225K in the minors.
This will be the 28-year-old’s second stint in North America after spending the 2018-19 campaign with Carolina. He split that season between the NHL and AHL, picking up eight points in 34 games with the Hurricanes (while also getting into nine postseason contests) and added 14 points in 31 appearances in the minors. However, while Carolina tendered him a qualifying offer in 2019, he opted to go back overseas instead.
Since then, Maenalanen has played in Finland, spending two years with Jokerit in the KHL before joining Karpat of the SM-liiga last season. He was quite productive in 2021-22, leading the team in scoring with 41 points in 47 games while also making appearances for Finland at the Olympics and World Championships. That was enough to convince Winnipeg to offer Maenalanen another NHL opportunity while the center walks away from the two remaining years on his Finnish contract to do so.
Winnipeg has several roster spots up front to fill next season so as things stand, there will be some openings in training camp in the fall. With him doing reasonably well in a limited role with Carolina in the past, Maenalanen could have an inside track on one of those openings with the Jets likely opting once again to turn to low-cost depth to round out their roster for 2022-23.