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Former 1st round pick gives up on his NHL dream and sign a contract to play hockey in Europe

Published February 2, 2023 at 3:21 PM
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Making the NHL is the single toughest task for any young hockey player. Even for those drafted in the 1st round it doesn't guarantee that you'll ever find your way into the NHL. For some the path to having a successful professional hockey career, that means leaving North America and pursuing other opportunities. Today, Winnipeg Jets restricted free agent forward Kristian Vesalainen has signed a one-year extension with HIFK.


The 23 year old was drafted 24th overall by the Jets in 2017. He played five games in the 2018-19 season, before playing in the minor leagues and eventually the KHL. The following year he was in the AHL full-time, and then in 2020-21 he once again split time in three different leagues.

During the 2021-2022 season Vesalainen dressed in 53 games but was only able to score 2 goals and 3 points. He wasn't able to earn the trust of the coach, playing only an average of 8:40 in ice time.


His rights will be owned by the Jets through his 27th birthday. With the way things stand now Vesalainen could go down as another first round pick that wasn't able to establish himself as a full time NHLer.
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February 2   |   82 answers
Former 1st round pick gives up on his NHL dream and sign a contract to play hockey in Europe

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