WHO IS HE?
WHAT KIND OF PLAYER IS HE?A natural goal scorer possessing an all-world shot, Saarela has consistently demonstrated an ability to score from anywhere on the ice. He has spent time both at center and on the wing.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST SEASON?Saarela began the season in the Chicago organization after the Blackhawks acquired him via trade shortly after his Calder Cup win in Charlotte. After just five games played with AHL Rockford, he went to the Panthers organization in yet another trade.
With AHL Springfield, Saarela posted 31 points in 43 games, a pace that resulted in him playing his first nine NHL regular season games with the Panthers later in the season. He made an impact in his first extended run of NHL games, posting his first four points (2g, 2a) and earning one playoff game during the Panthers’ play-in series against the New York Islanders.
WHAT DOES HEAD COACH GEORDIE KINNEAR SAY?“He had played wing for most of his American Hockey League career, but we didn’t have a lot of depth at center in Springfield so we asked him to play center, be more committed without the puck defensively and play a 200-foot game. I thought he really embraced it, and he was a pleasure to work with. He’s obviously a winner. He and Owen Tippett had a lot of chemistry, and he brought a lot of value and positive impact to our team. He became more NHL ready as the season went on.”
WHAT'S HE DOING NOW?Saarela is playing with his old Finnish club Lukko Rauma, where, according to Panthers General Manager Bill Zito, he has opted to stay for the remainder of this season despite the return of the NHL. His scoring prowess is again on display, as he has posted 18 points, including 12 goals that tie him for third in the league, in just 19 games.
WHAT’S A FUN FACT ABOUT HIM?With Lukko this season, he has spent time playing on a line with Daniel Audette, a teammate from last season in Springfield.
CAN I SEE SOME HIGHLIGHTS?Sure.
DID I MISS ANY OTHER PROFILES?Maybe.
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Rodrigo Abols
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Henrik Borgstrom
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Tommy Cross
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Grigori Denisenko
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Philippe Desrosiers
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Max Gildon
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Aleksi Heponiemi
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Brady Keeper
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Juho Lammikko
- Know a Panthers Prospect: John Ludvig
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Eetu Luostarinen
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Samuel Montembeault
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Mason Marchment
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Serron Noel
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Chase Priskie
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Aleksi Saarela
- Know a Panthers Prospect: Ryan Bednard