Dallas Stars pending restricted free agent defender Oskari Laaksonen has signed with the SHL’s Luleå HF for the next two seasons, keeping him overseas through 2025.
The 23-year-old arrives in Luleå after two-and-a-half seasons in the AHL. Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres with the 89th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, Dallas acquired Laaksonen in a minor trade in December 2022.
There’s still some untapped potential in Laaksonen, who posted 34 points in 71 games with the Rochester Americans in 2021-22 before becoming a healthy scratch as the postseason began. In Texas this season, Laaksonen registered eight points in 29 games, adding three points in six playoff contests.
Dallas can retain Laaksonen’s NHL rights upon the expiration of his SHL deal if they issue a qualifying offer next month.
Before his time in the AHL, the Finnish defenseman amassed four seasons of pro experience in the Finnish Liiga with the Ilves and Pelicans clubs. Notably, Laaksonen was also a part of the Finnish national team that clinched the IIHF Men’s World Junior Championship title in the 2018-19 season.
Luleå general manager Stefan Nilsson expressed his excitement about Laaksonen’s acquisition in a translated statement:
It feels great with Laaksonen, who we feel is a skilled two-way defender who will be able to help the team. In addition to having a solid defensive game, he is also a good skater who likes to participate in the offensive game. In addition, he is a right-handed shooter, which we don’t have too many of.
Laaksonen also spoke on his decision to move overseas:
It feels great to move to Luleå and take on a new challenge together with Luleå Hockey in the SHL. Before I decided to sign, I spoke to Juhani Tyrväinen, because I have played with his brother before, and he had nothing but good things to say about both the association and the team, so it was an easy decision to make.