Vesalainen activates out clause in contract, jets off to Jokerit of KHL

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MINNEAPOLIS — Kristian Vesalainen has officially bid farewell to the Winnipeg Jets organization — at least for now.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/11/2018 (1411 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MINNEAPOLIS — Kristian Vesalainen has officially bid farewell to the Winnipeg Jets organization — at least for now.

The 19-year-old rookie was assigned Thursday to Jokerit of the Kontinental Hockey League, where he will finish out the season. Vesalainen has an out clause in his three-year entry-level contract that allows him to return to Europe if he’s not on the Jets’ roster. That applies to this season only.

He made the Jets out of training camp, registering one assist in five games, before being sent down to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.

Despite Jets management preferring him to stay in North America — and even calling him back up this past weekend in a last-ditch attempt at convincing him — Vesalainen has opted to head home to Finland rather than remain with the Moose, where he had three goals and five assists in eight games.

He would be eligible to rejoin either the Jets or Moose once the Jokerit squad’s KHL season ends. The KHL playoffs begin in late February and run until mid-April, around the time the Stanley Cup and Calder Cup playoffs begin.

***

Could a familiar face soon be back in the fold?

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets' Kristian Vesalainen (93) waits for the pass at practice in Winnipeg on Sunday, November 18, 2018.

Marko Dano was placed on waivers by the Colorado Avalanche Thursday, five weeks after the team grabbed him off the hockey scrap heap when the Jets tried to send him down to the Moose.

Dano, 23, had no points in eight games with the Avalanche while also spending a handful of games as a healthy scratch.

The Jets may be interested in getting Dano back for forward depth, especially after losing Vesalainen. As the team that initially waived him, Winnipeg has the right to reacquire Dano and send him directly to the Moose, as they initially intended, providing no other NHL team makes a claim by this morning with the intention of keeping Dano on their roster for at least the next 30 days.

Dano, the 27th overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft, was acquired by the Jets in February 2016 as part of the trade that sent Andrew Ladd to the Chicago Blackhawks. He played 82 games with the Jets spread out over parts of four seasons, scoring 10 goals and adding 12 assists. He was a healthy scratch for every game this year prior to being put on waivers.

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Jets head coach Paul Maurice appears to be finding additional trust in his fourth line. The trio of Jack Roslovic, Nic Petan and Mathieu Perreault were given several shifts late in Wednesday’s game against the Calgary Flames, even with the Jets trailing by a couple goals.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods Colorado Avalanche's Marko Dano has been placed on waivers for the second time this season.

Petan played 8:20 over 11 shifts, Roslovic 9:07 over 13 shifts and Perreault 11:02 over 16 shifts, thanks to his work on the second power-play unit. That’s a marked increase of usage for Petan and Roslovic, who were struggling to exceed five minutes a game, especially in games where the Jets were behind.

“Since the three of them have gotten together, I think post-Finland, Jack Roslovic is skating differently now. He’s got some comfort in his game. But his energy level’s gone right up. Matty Perreault brings that. So it’s a good line. And they need to be rewarded at times. So they need to feel from their coach that if their game is right they’ll get an opportunity to play a bit more. And we, as a team, need to be able to play that line more,” Maurice said.

Roslovic was a healthy scratch for the second game of the Global Series in Helsinki, then moved to the wing for a few games with Andrew Copp as his centre. He’s now back in the middle, with a noticeable difference.

“Yeah, getting him back to skating is the thing we needed to do. When you take a player out of the middle, their game frees up. There’s not as much responsibility on the wings. So he got back to skating and moving right and we had hoped he could transition that into the middle, and it has,” said Maurice.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Jack Roslovic congratulates Mathieu Perreault after he scored his first goal of the season. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)
Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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