Former First Round Pick Leaves Winnipeg Jets and Signs in Sweden

Winnipeg Jets, Kristian Vesalainen (93). Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Winnipeg Jets, Kristian Vesalainen (93). Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

The Winnipeg Jets had their first official departure of the 2022 offseason and it involves a player who is a pending restricted free agent.

That player is twenty-two-year-old Kristian Vesalainen, who the Jets drafted with the twenty-fourth overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

After spending four seasons with the Jets franchise, the left-winger has left the franchise to play in the top Swedish Hockey League, the SHL.

Winnipeg Jets’ former 2017 first-round pick, Kristian Vesalainen has signed in Sweden

The Finland-born forward has officially signed with the Malmö Redhawks. According to the Redhawks’ announcement of the deal, his new contract is a one-year deal that covers the 2022-2023 season.

Vesalainen struggled to make the jump to be a consistent figure in the Jets lineup and struggled to produce at the NHL level.

Vesalainen played in 70 games for the Jets over his four years in the franchise and had two goals, three assists, and a minus-five plus/minus in his NHL career.

This past 2021-2022 season was Vesalainen’s most significant contribution as a member of the Jets. He played in 58 games last season, but played a bottom-six role and amassed two goals, one assist, and a minus-eight rating. He also appeared in 17 games in the AHL for the Manitoba Moose and had three goals and three assists.

During his career, he spent the entire 2019-2020 season with the Moose where he had twelve goals and eighteen assists in 60 games. He was also sent on loan twice during his time with the Jets.

This will be Vesalainen’s first time back in the SHL since the 2016-2017 season. Prior to being drafted, Vesalainen played 45 games with Frölunda HC and had two goals and six assists.

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Winnipeg Jets Fans: What are your initial reactions to Vesalainen leaving the Jets and signing overseas? Leave your comments below!