Looking through the Winnipeg Jets franchise depth chart, many people may have been wondering what happened to Kristian Vesalainen.
Vesalainen was drafted by the Jets in the first round (24th overall selection) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and went on to appear in 70 games for the Jets over the course of three seasons.
Last season was the most the Helsinki native played with the Jets. During the 2021-2022 season, Vesalainen played in 53 games with Winnipeg and had two goals, one assist, six penalty minutes, a minus-eight plus/minus, and averaged 8 minutes and 40 seconds of ice time per game.
Before Vesalainen’s contract expired this offseason and he was set to become a restricted free agent, the Malmö Redhawks of the Swedish Hockey League announced they signed the forward to a one-year deal.
How has former Winnipeg Jets forward, Kristian Vesalainen performed this season with Malmö?
In eleven games so far this season, the twenty-three-year-old has the same amount of points as he did all last year with the Jets. Vesalainen currently has one goal, two assists, and a minus-three plus/minus.
The six-foot-four-inch forward currently has a minus plus/minus rating, which is something he struggled with when applying his trade in North America. As mentioned above, he had a minus-eight NHL career plus/minus. In his 105-game AHL career, Vesalainen had a minus-22 plus/minus.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on Vesalainen as this season progresses. Vesalainen will be an unrestricted free agent during the upcoming 2023 offseason, so he could return to an NHL franchise for the 2023-2024 season.
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As of today, Vesalainen’s Malmö is in a tie for 10th place out of the 14 team-SHL. The Redhawks have 17 points out of 12 games played.
This SHL season should be fun to watch as there is currently a tie for first place between Örebro HK and Färjestad BK who both have 25 points. The teams within third place through seventh place are all within 5 points of the league leaders.