|Born||January 7, 1997,|
|5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
201 lb (91 kg; 14 st 5 lb)
|NHL Draft||89th overall, 2015|
New York Rangers
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.
Saarela made his senior debut playing with Lukko of the SM-liiga during the 2012–13 SM-liiga season. 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.
On 20 April 2016, he signed a one-year contract to return to his original club, Lukko, on a one-year contract. Under two months later, on June 13, 2016, Saarela was then signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. 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. 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.
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. 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.
Regular season and playoffs
|Competitor for Finland|
|World Junior Championships|
|IIHF World U18 Championships|
Awards and honors
|Calder Cup (Charlotte Checkers)||2019|||
- 2012–13 Lukko player statistics. Eliteprospects.com (2013-04-01). Retrieved on 2013-04-01.
- Canes Acquire Saarela, Picks for Eric Staal. Carolina Hurricanes (28 February 2016). Retrieved on 28 February 2016.
- Rangers Acquire Eric Staal from Carolina. Blueshirts United (28 February 2016). Retrieved on 28 February 2016.
- Aleksi Saarela returns home (Finnish). Lukko Rauma (2016-04-20). Retrieved on 2016-04-20.
- Canes agree to terms with Aleksi Saarela. Carolina Hurricanes (2016-06-13). Retrieved on 2016-06-13.
- Canes Recall Aleksi Saarela From Charlotte (3 January 2018). Retrieved on 10 March 2018.
- DeCock, Luke (20 April 2019). Aleksi Saarela's NHL debut a Carolina Hurricanes first. Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved on 21 May 2019.
- Blackhawks acquire de Haan, Saarela from Hurricanes. Chicago Blackhawks (June 24, 2019). Retrieved on June 24, 2019.
- "Panthers acquire Aleksi Saarela from Blackhawks". Springfield Thunderbirds (October 23, 2019). Retrieved on October 23, 2019.
- "Welcome back Saarela!" (in Finnish). Lukko (22 August 2020). Retrieved on 22 August 2020.
- Check and Mate! Charlotte wins Calder Cup. American Hockey League (June 8, 2019). Retrieved on June 8, 2019.