You know what the Milwaukee Admirals lacked this season? Finns. There was only one player from Finland on the roster this season and that was Miikka Salomäki. He was surrounded by a gaggle of Swedes with last names ending in berg. Well, good news Miikka! The Nashville Predators may have just added a second Finn into the fold for next season by signing free agent defenseman Kristian Näkyvä to an entry level contract.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tennessee (April 24, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Friday that the club has signed free-agent defenseman Kristian Näkyvä to a one-year, entry-level contract.
Näkyvä, 24 (11/18/90), played his first season with Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League in 2014-15, tying for the league lead among defensemen in goals (10), tying for fifth at the position in points (29) and ranking eighth in assists (19).
Prior to joining Lulea, the 6-0, 190-pounder spent three seasons with JYP of the Finnish Elite League, ranking among the Top 10 blueliners in points in both 2012-13 and 2013-14 while winning a league title in 2011-12.
A native of Helsinki, Finland, Näkyvä played his junior hockey in the Espoo Blues organization, captaining the club to a junior league title in 2008-09 while winning the Raimo Helminen Award for having the best plus/minus (+32).
I would have wagged my finger and made mention that not all entry level contracts guarantee that the player will jump the pond and arrive in North America, Max Görtz, but this is a one-year deal. That pretty much tells me he’s an Admiral next season. When you think about what that means for everyone else it makes competition for an AHL spot potentially even tougher than it was this season… or does it?
Jonathan Diaby, Garrett Noonan, Johan Alm, Jaynen Rissling, and Mikko Vainonen are the only guaranteed defensemen that will be back next season. The signing of Näkyvä could signal the end of the road for Anthony Bitetto, Joe Piskula, Taylor Aronson, or Jimmy Oligny. Now, when reading those names, who would you pick as the odd man out? I’d hate to speculate (so allow me to speculate) but Oligny is the odd man out in this situation with Näkyvä, also a left-handed shooting defenseman, now in the mix. This being pretty much the first of many off-season moves to be made system wide I suppose we should all just kick back and wait to see what happens next.
Thoughts on the signing of Kristian Näkyvä? What does his inclusion to the organization mean to some of the defensemen in Milwaukee or Cincinnati? Who do you think ends up getting let loose as a result?