By Carter Brooks
Photo by Jonathan Kozub
Jokerit's Kristian Veslainen has been named the Kontinental Hockey League's Rookie of the Month for the month of December 2018.
The 19-year-old Helsinki, FI. product had a stellar month of play, putting up three goals and nine points in 12 games for Helsinki's squad, during his first full month of KHL action. Vesalainen arrived to Jokerit in late November after growing frustrated with his lack of playing time with the Jets, and his recent demotion to the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose.
The Winnipeg Jets' first round selection in 2017 has now skated in 14 KHL games, in which he has four goals, 11 points, three power play goals and is sitting at a +3. Vesalainen is shooing at a very high percentage, as over 17 percent of his shots on net have found the twine so far.
Recently, Vesalainen announced that he would not participate in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, as he said it would not be beneficial to his game. Whether that meant he felt the jet-lag, the travel time, the time away from teammates, or the level of competition wasn't up to snuff remains to be translated.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound winger has begun 2019 on the right note, picking up an assist and a +2 rating against Sibir on Thursday. However, one has to wonder how he would look alongside Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Miro Heiskanen on Finland's junior team playing for gold Saturday evening in Vancouver.