RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes’ two leading scorers last season, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, just finished playing for Finland at the IIHF World Championships in Denmark. When they return to North America, they will be bringing one of their teammates back with them.
What was reported originally by Finnish newspaper Iltalehti is now official: Winger Saku Maenalanen — a 2013 fifth-round pick of the Nashville Predators who never signed with the team and is a three-time champion with Karpat of SM-liiga in Finland — has signed a one-year entry-level contract with the Hurricanes.
Maenalanen (6-foot-3½, 185 pounds) had 17 goals (tied for 16th in SM-liiga) and 29 assists (T-10th) for 46 points (T-11th) in 59 games with Karpat this season, adding five goals and five assists in 18 playoff games in helping the team to the league championship. His contract will pay him $832,500 in the NHL and $70,000 in the AHL. Maenalanen also received a $92,500 signing bonus.
“Saku is a big, strong winger who can really skate,” Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell said in Friday’s press release announcing the signing. “Our scouting staff has been tracking this player for a long time. He had options when it came to where he would start his NHL career, and we’re pleased he has chosen Carolina.”
Maenalanen, who will turn 24 on May 29, had two goals and one assist in eight games with Finland at the World Championships. Finland was upset by Switzerland, 3-2, in the first game of the medal round on Thursday.
Aho and Teravaninen have familiarity with Maenalanen beyond this spring’s World Championships. Aho and Maenalanen played together in Karpat for two seasons (winning the title together in 2015) and also with the club’s junior team prior to that. Teravainen teamed up with Maenalanen on a line at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships where they guided Finland to gold. Teravainen led that tournament in scoring with 15 points in seven games, while Maenalanen’s seven goals ranked first.
Finland defeated rival Sweden — including current Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm and prospect Lucas Wallmark — 3-2 in overtime of the gold medal game that year on a goal by current Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Maenalanen had a goal and an assist in the game.