By Carter Brooks
Photo by Jonathan Kozub
Should the Manitoba Moose make a run for the Calder Cup, it appears as though they will have some added assistance.
Early this week, news surfaced that 2017 first round draft pick Kristian Vesalainen would be returning to North America following the completion of his 2018-19 Kontinental Hockey League season with Jokerit.
After cracking the Jets' squad out of training camp this past October, Vesalainen went on to pick up just one assist in five contests with Winnipeg. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound winger was then sent down to the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose, where he produced at a point-per-game rate, but quickly determined that his best opportunity for growth would come back home in the KHL.
Vesalainen then flew back to his native Finland and put up six goals and 17 points in 31 regular season games for Jokerit, before scoring one postseason KHL goal before his team bowed out early. Now that Jokerit has been eliminated from the Gagarin Cup, Vesalainen is eligible to return back to North America and play out the remainder of the season/postseason with his NHL/AHL club.
Having already dressed in five regular season games for the Jets, Winnipeg could only add Vesalainen to its lineup for a maximum of four games if the hope from Kevin Cheveldayoff and Co. is to avoid knocking a year off his three-year entry-level-contract. This number is a reflection of both regular season and playoff games.
The Moose are currently 29-26-3-2 through 60 games this season, and conclude their season in 16 games on Sunday, April 14th.