Aleksi Saarela
Born January 7, 1997,
Helsinki
Height
Weight
5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
201 lb (91 kg; 14 st 5 lb)
Position Center/Left winger
Shoots Left
Liiga team
F. teams
Lukko
Liiga
Ässät
AHL
Charlotte Checkers
Rockford IceHogs
Springfield Thunderbirds
NHL
Carolina Hurricanes
Florida Panthers
NHL Draft 89th overall, 2015
New York Rangers
Playing career 2010–present

Aleksi Saarela (born on January 7, 1997 in Helsinki) is a Finnish professional ice hockey center/left winger. He is currently playing on loan with Lukko of the Liiga while under contract as a prospect to the Florida Panthers of the NHL. He was originally selected 89th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers.

Club career[edit | edit source]

Saarela made his senior debut playing with Lukko of the SM-liiga during the 2012–13 SM-liiga season.[1] Next season played Saarela also for Lukko of the Liiga. In the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, Saarela played for Ässät of the Liiga. In the 2015–16 season, Saarela led Porin Ässät with 20 goals and finished third in overal scoring with 33 points in 51 games. On February 28, 2016, the rights to Saarela, along with a 2016 second-round draft pick and a 2017 second-round draft pick, were traded from the New York Rangers to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Eric Staal.[2][3]

On 20 April 2016, he signed a one-year contract to return to his original club, Lukko, on a one-year contract.[4] Under two months later, on June 13, 2016, Saarela was then signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.[5] In the 2016-17 season, Saarela played 49 games for Lukko and 9 games in regular season plus 5 games in play-offs for Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.

Saarela spent whole 2017-18 season playing for the Checkers. On 3 January 2018, Saarela was recalled by the Carolina Hurricanes from the Charlotte Checkers prior to a game with the Pittsburgh Penguins.[6] However, it was short lived as he was sent back down days later without playing a game.

In 2018-19 season, Saarela played 69 games in regular season and 17 games in play-offs for the Checkers. He also made his NHL debut during game five of the Hurricanes' first round playoff series against the Washington Capitals.[7]

On June 24, 2019, Saarela was traded by the Hurricanes, along with Calvin de Haan, to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Gustav Forsling and Anton Forsberg.[8]

Saarela participated in the Blackhawks 2019 training camp, before he was reassigned to begin the 2019–20 season in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. Unable to crack Chicago's roster, Saarela requested a trade and after just 5 games with the IceHogs Saarela was dealt by the Blackhawks to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Ian McCoshen on October 23, 2019. He was directly assigned to report to the Panthers' AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.[9] Saarela played 43 games for the Thunderbirds and 9 games in regular season and 1 play-off game for the Panthers.

On August 22, 2020, following the Panthers' elimination from the 2020 Stanley Cup play-offs, Saarela returned to original club, Lukko of the Liiga, on loan until the commencement of the delayed 2020–21 North American season.[10]

International career[edit | edit source]

Saarela played for Finland at the 2013 World U17 Hockey Challenge, 2014 and 2015 World U18 Championships and at the 2016 World Junior Championship.

Career statistics[edit | edit source]

Regular season and playoffs[edit | edit source]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2012–13 Lukko Jr. A 22 8 10 18 6 10 2 6 8 2
2012–13 Lukko SM-l 3 1 1 2 0
2013–14 Lukko Jr. A 17 6 16 22 8
2013–14 Lukko Liiga 12 0 2 2 2
2014–15 Ässät Liiga 51 6 6 12 18 2 0 0 0 0
2015–16 Ässät Liiga 51 20 13 33 14
2016–17 Lukko Liiga 49 15 13 28 10
2016–17 Charlotte Checkers AHL 9 6 4 10 2 5 0 0 0 2
2017–18 Charlotte Checkers AHL 69 25 18 43 8 8 2 1 3 2
2018–19 Charlotte Checkers AHL 69 30 24 54 12 17 7 8 15 4
2018–19 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 1 0 0 0 0
2019–20 Rockford IceHogs AHL 5 0 1 1 0
2019–20 Springfield Thunderbirds AHL 43 12 19 31 12
2019–20 Florida Panthers NHL 9 2 2 4 0 1 0 0 0 0
Liiga totals 166 42 35 77 44 2 0 0 0 0
NHL totals 9 2 2 4 0 2 0 0 0 0
Medal record
Competitor for Flag of Finland Finland
Ice hockey
World Junior Championships
Gold 2016 Finland
IIHF World U18 Championships
Silver 2015 Switzerland

International[edit | edit source]

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2013 Finland U17 7th 5 2 2 4 2
2014 Finland WJC18 6th 2 1 0 1 0
2015 Finland WJC18 Silver medal icon.svg 7 3 5 8 6
2016 Finland WJC Gold medal icon.svg 7 4 3 7 4
Junior totals 21 10 10 20 12

Awards and honors[edit | edit source]

Award Year
AHL
Calder Cup (Charlotte Checkers) 2019 [11]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 2012–13 Lukko player statistics. Eliteprospects.com (2013-04-01). Retrieved on 2013-04-01.
  2. Canes Acquire Saarela, Picks for Eric Staal. Carolina Hurricanes (28 February 2016). Retrieved on 28 February 2016.
  3. Rangers Acquire Eric Staal from Carolina. Blueshirts United (28 February 2016). Retrieved on 28 February 2016.
  4. Aleksi Saarela returns home (Finnish). Lukko Rauma (2016-04-20). Retrieved on 2016-04-20.
  5. Canes agree to terms with Aleksi Saarela. Carolina Hurricanes (2016-06-13). Retrieved on 2016-06-13.
  6. Canes Recall Aleksi Saarela From Charlotte (3 January 2018). Retrieved on 10 March 2018.
  7. DeCock, Luke (20 April 2019). Aleksi Saarela's NHL debut a Carolina Hurricanes first. Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved on 21 May 2019.
  8. Blackhawks acquire de Haan, Saarela from Hurricanes. Chicago Blackhawks (June 24, 2019). Retrieved on June 24, 2019.
  9. "Panthers acquire Aleksi Saarela from Blackhawks". Springfield Thunderbirds (October 23, 2019). Retrieved on October 23, 2019.
  10. "Welcome back Saarela!" (in Finnish). Lukko (22 August 2020). Retrieved on 22 August 2020.
  11. Check and Mate! Charlotte wins Calder Cup. American Hockey League (June 8, 2019). Retrieved on June 8, 2019.

External links[edit | edit source]

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