The Winnipeg Jets have announced that forward Saku Maenalanen has been activated off of injured reserve. In a corresponding move, forward David Gustafsson has been placed on injured reserve due to an upper-body injury.
The move allows the Jets to dress Maenalanen for tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, a move that became necessary when forward Morgan Barron went down with a non-COVID-related illness, per the Jets’ radio color commentator Jamie Thomas.
Maenalanen has been out since December 8th, when he was sidelined by an apparent shoulder injury after being driven into the boards by St. Louis Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola.
The Jets signed Maenalanen last summer, inking him to a one-year $750K deal with a hefty $225K AHL guarantee. The team made the signing after Maenalanen authored an impressive 2021-22 season in his native Finland, scoring 41 points in 47 games for Karpat.
This season Maenalanen hasn’t been able to translate his scoring success from Liiga but has nonetheless managed to skate in 25 total names. He has six points in that span, operating largely in a depth role with some limited penalty-killing time.
This activation gives Maenalanen the chance to get into some more NHL games, with the hope of him playing well enough to earn a contract extension, as his deal expires at the end of the season.
Replacing Maenalanen on injured reserve is Gustafsson, a 22-year-old 2018 second-round pick. Gustafsson had an impressive year in the AHL in 2021-22, scoring 30 points in 47 games. He has just five points in 38 games this season and now lands on injured reserve.
With just six points in 66 NHL career games, generating offense at the game’s highest level has been a challenge for Gustafsson. But he has managed to feature on the Jets’ penalty kill, and has a well-regarded defensive game. He’ll now land on injured reserve, setting back what has been an underwhelming first run as a regular NHLer.