The Winnipeg Jets have reassigned Kristian Vesalainen to Jokerit of the KHL.
Vesalainen, 19, played five games with the Jets to start the season.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) November 22, 2018
This appears to finally mark the end of the drama surrounding the entire situation. If you need a recap of the events, check out Art’s piece here. The fact that Vesalainen is heading back to Europe is not a surprise, at least given how the last month has gone. Out of camp, the reaction was very different as he suited up for five games after making the team. His play was underwhelming as he recorded one assist through his first five games.
From there, the Jets sent Vesalainen to the Moose where he likely belonged from the start. He put up three goals and five assists in eight games and appeared to be finding some success in the North American style of play.
Unfortunately, Vesalainen and the Jets had different views as Vesalainen wanted to go back home and play another year in Finland while the Jets were hoping to keep him closer to the team.
The team would have liked Vesalainen to stay for multiple reasons and he likely would have been called up if some injuries were to happen. Secondly, he would be learning the Jets systems and processes while playing for the Moose and it would help ease the learning curve next season when he tries to make the team once again. Lastly, having Vesalainen close would give the Jets coaching staff an opportunity to work on specific skills and abilities that will help him down the road. It would also benefit the coaching staff as they would get to know one of their top prospects much better.
Regardless, you can’t blame Vesalainen for wanting to go back home. Moving half way across the world is never easy, especially when you are a 19 year old kid that doesn’t speak great English. As far as his game his concerned, he will be comfortable playing in his home country and will be playing at a very high level. The KHL is a great league and it will provide a stiffer test than the Finnish league he played in last season.
So now what?
Vesalainen will be going to Jokerit, the only Finnish team in the KHL. He will not be able to come back to the Jets until the end of the KHL season. The nice thing is that the KHL season ends before the NHL season ends so there is a possibility that Vesalainen makes a return before the end of the season.
It's official: the #NHLJets have reassigned Kristian Vesalainen from the Manitoba Moose to Jokerit, Finland, of the KHL.
Vesalainen is only eligible to return to the Jets once Jokerit's season ends in April.
— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) November 22, 2018
This move is a good thing for both parties as the Jets don’t really need Vesalainen this year, and Vesalainen will continue developing in a strong league where he is comfortable playing.