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Carolina Hurricanes recall Aleksi Saarela from Charlotte Checkers

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The Finnish forward gets his first chance at the NHL, and his debut could come tomorrow in Pittsburgh.

Jamie Kellner

The Carolina Hurricanes announced Wednesday that they have recalled forward Aleksi Saarela from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. Saarela has 13 goals and six assists for 19 points in 31 games this season with the minor-league club.

This is Saarela’s first callup to the National Hockey League. The Finnish forward was acquired in the Eric Staal trade that sent Staal to the New York Rangers and Saarela and two second round draft picks to the Canes. The move comes after recently recalled forward Lucas Wallmark suffered a groin injury against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

To open a roster spot for Saarela, the Canes placed center Marcus Kruger on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

Saarela currently has a 17.6 shooting percentage and ranks third among Checkers skaters in goals. The Hurricanes are set to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night.

Read the Hurricanes press release below:


Marcus Kruger placed on injured reserve with lower-body injury

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled forward Aleksi Saarela from the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers. In addition, the Hurricanes placed forward Marcus Kruger on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

Saarela, 20, currently ranks third among Checkers skaters with 13 goals this season, and has totaled 19 points in 31 games played in 2017-18. Originally selected by the New York Rangers in the third round of the 2015 NHL Draft, Saarela was acquired by the Hurricanes on Feb. 27, 2016, along with second-round picks in the 2016 and 2017 drafts in exchange for Eric Staal.

Prior to beginning his North American professional career last season, Saarela played parts of four seasons in the top Finnish league, Liiga, totaling 77 points (42g, 35a) in 166 games with Assat Pori and Lukko Rauma. The Helsinki native has represented Finland in a number of international tournaments, winning gold along with Sebastian Aho at the 2016 World Junior Championship.