Update 5/18: The Canes have officially announced the signing of Saku Maenalanen to a one-year contract. The release from the team is below.
Maenalanen bound for Carolina
Finnish forward Saku Maenalanen will sign an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes following the conclusion of the World Championships, according to Finnish newspaper Iltalehti. Maenalanen, a fifth-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators in 2013, never signed an entry-level deal and became a free agent eligible to sign with any team when the Predators’ draft rights expired last June.
Maenalanen has posted three points in seven games at the World Championships in his first year representing Finland at senior level. He set career highs across the board in goals (17), assists (29), points (46) and games played (59) in 2017-18. He was a member of the gold-medal winning Finnish team at the 2014 World Juniors, where he led all players with seven goals and finished third in overall scoring behind Filip Forsberg and once-and-future teammate Teuvo Teravainen. He also spent time playing with Sebastian Aho before Aho’s jump to North America in 2016.
Despite his scoring explosion in Liiga this season, Maenalanen is projected as a bottom-six NHL forward, likely to start in the AHL:
Yep, thinking also he starts with AHL first. Anyway. Guy won wjc 2014 goals playing in the same line with TT centering him (TT won scoring title so all the points). So his is wjc gold medalist with TT. Has played with Sepe in Kärpät. Both TT and Sepe know him well. Plays c/w— Katrii (@KatariinaKaTrii) May 17, 2018
Carolina scout Joni Pitkanen is at the World Championships and likely had a significant role in signing Maenalanen.
- Is Don Waddell, who said over and over again he didn’t want the job until he changed his mind and took it, the right choice to serve as the Hurricanes’ GM? [North State Journal]
- Waddell was a guest on NHL Network Radio yesterday, and talked about - among other things - the Canes’ new coach and the team’s plans for the second pick. [SiriusXM]
- The Jets got to the Western Conference Final by being stubbornly patient. Which teams could benefit from a similar approah? (Spoiler: the photo at the top of the article gives an answer away.) [The Athletic ($)]
- Sebastian Aho is in a league of his own at the World Championships. [Sportsnet]
- If there’s a team in the league not paying attention to how Vegas built their team, they are setting themselves up for disappointment - and that includes the Hurricanes. [The Athletic ($)]
CANES SIGN MAENALANEN TO ONE-YEAR CONTRACT
Former Predators pick skated for Finland at 2018 IIHF World Championship
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has signed forward Saku Maenalanen to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Maenalanen $832,500 in the NHL or $70,000 in the American Hockey League (AHL) during the 2018-19 season. He receives as signing bonus of $92,500.
“Saku is a big, strong winger who can really skate,” said Waddell. “Our scouting staff has been tracking this player for a long time. He had options when it came to where he would start his NHL career, and we’re pleased he has chosen Carolina.”
Maenalanen, 23, totaled 46 points (17g, 29a) in 59 games for Karpat in 2017-18, ranking tied for 11th among scorers in Liiga, the top Finnish professional league. The Tornio, Finland, native added 10 points (5g, 5a) in the postseason, ranking tied for fourth in playoff goals and tied for sixth in points in helping Karpat capture the league championship. Following the conclusion of Liiga’s season, Maenalanen made his IIHF World Championship debut for Finland.
Originally selected by the Nashville Predators in the fifth round, 125th overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft, Maenalanen (6’3”, 192 lbs.) totaled 43 goals and 53 assists (96 points) in 192 career regular-season Liiga games for Karpat. He has been a teammate of current Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho at various levels of Karpat’s system, including Liiga. Maenalanen was also teammates with Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen at different levels of his international career with Finland, including at the 2014 World Junior Championship.