Vesalainen had a clause in his contract whereby he could request European assignment if in the AHL at this time.
Vesalainen, 19, played five games with the Jets to start the season.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) November 22, 2018
Kristian Vesalainen Reassigned To The KHL
In his debut season, the 19-year-old only played five games for the Jets, picking up an assist during this time. His possession numbers were 48.6 percent Corsi-For and a relative Corsi of -1.7. Those totals are proof that the young winger could benefit from further development. And as a result, Vesalainen was sent down to the Jets AHL team, where he scored three goals and five assists for eight points. He was originally drafted by the Jets in the first round, 24th overall of the 2017 NHL draft.
It has been a somewhat disappointing start for the Finnish native, particularly since Vesalainen was earmarked for success after playing in the SM-Liiga and scoring 22 goals and 21 assists for 43 points last year. He continued showing his potential in the World Championships, where he lead the tournament in goals with six and points with 13.
What This Means for the Future
Jokerit are performing well, with a 20-5-3 record so far. They are sitting second in the Western Conference, behind Russian giants SKA. Vesalainen has shown great physicality and skill which will translate well in the KHL.
Although there is a downside of this move for the Jets. As the team will not be able to recall the Finish forward until the KHL season is over. This is not a cause for concern at the moment, but there is still much of the season to be played. More injuries are always possible.
Also, the Jets will have no say over their first-round picks development or ice time whilst playing in the KHL. They will have to hope that the organization gives him an equal opportunity to play. But that’s not always a guarantee with players who are not committed long-term.
It is hoped the 19-year-old will return to the NHL next season and prove his worth with this added experience.