Aleksi Saarela (born 7 January 1997) is a Finnish professional ice hockey forward. He is currently playing with the Springfield Thunderbirds in the American Hockey League (AHL) while under contract as a prospect to the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was originally selected 89th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers.
7 January 1997|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||198 lb (90 kg; 14 st 2 lb)|
|NHL team (P)|
Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL)
89th overall, 2015|
New York Rangers
Saarela made his SM-liiga debut playing with Lukko during the 2012–13 SM-liiga season. On 28 February 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.
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 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 13 June 2016, Saarela was then signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.
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.
Saarela participated in the Blackhawks 2019 training camp, before he was re-assigned 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.
Regular season and playoffsEdit
|World Junior Championships|
|IIHF World U18 Championships|
Awards and honorsEdit
- "2012–13 Lukko player statistics". Eliteprospects.com. 1 April 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- "Canes Acquire Saarela, Picks for Eric Staal". Carolina Hurricanes. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
- "Rangers Acquire Eric Staal from Carolina". Blueshirts United. 28 February 2016. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
- "Aleksi Saarela returns home" (in Finnish). Lukko Rauma. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- "Canes agree to terms with Aleksi Saarela". Carolina Hurricanes. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
- Williams, Terrell (3 January 2018). "Canes Recall Aleksi Saarela From Charlotte". NHL.com. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
- DeCock, Luke (20 April 2019). "Aleksi Saarela's NHL debut a Carolina Hurricanes first". Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
- "Blackhawks acquire de Haan, Saarela from Hurricanes". Chicago Blackhawks. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
- "Panthers acquire Aleksi Saarela from Blackhawks". Springfield Thunderbirds. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
- "Check and Mate! Charlotte wins Calder Cup". American Hockey League. 8 June 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2019.