Winnipeg Jets draft pick Kristian Vesalainen is headed back to North America.
The 19-year-old was reassigned by the Jets back to the Manitoba Moose after his KHL team was knocked out of the playoffs.
Vesalainen was en route to Winnipeg on Friday and is expected to arrive later in the day, but he won’t suit up for the Moose when they face the Texas Stars at Bell MTS Place.
Vesalainen started the season with the Jets, but after being held without a goal in his first five NHL games, he was sent down to the Moose. He appeared in eight more AHL games with the Moose where he had three goals and five assists. Vesalainen then exercised an option is his contract to return home to play in Finland.
In 31 games with Jokerit, Vesalainen recorded six goals and 11 assists. He also scored once in six playoff games.
It’s highly unlikely he’ll return to the Jets at any point this season. If he appeared in five more NHL games this season it will burn the first year off his entry level contract to make him a restricted free agent a year earlier. With all first and second years players ineligible for the Seattle expansion draft in 2021, the Jets also wouldn’t have to expose him, and he wouldn’t count towards their protection limit.
The Jets selected Vesalainen in the first round, 24th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft.
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