The best player in the Finnish league is on his way to Minnesota.
Michael Keranen, who was voted by his peers as the SM-liiga’s top performer last season, has agreed to a two-way deal with the Wild for next season, GM Chuck Fletcher announced on Thursday.
“We are excited to get Michael under contract for next season,” Fletcher said in a statement. “He had a very good year in Finland and our scouting staff thinks he is ready for the challenge of coming to North America.
“We are happy to add him to our lists of prospects and look forward to seeing how he performs in training camp.”
Keranen, 24, captured two of Finland’s biggest awards last season. The first was the “Golden Helmet” — the league’s top player, voted by the players — which was previously won by the likes of Tim Thomas, Ville Leino, Saku Koivu and Brian Rafalski.
The second is the Lasse Oksanen Trophy, awarded annually to the SM-liiga’s best player during the regular season. Two years ago, current Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta captured the trophy.
Keranen won this year’s awards on the strength of scoring 52 points in 52 games for Tampere, leading the league with six game-winning goals. It was a major breakout campaign for the flashy forward, who shattered his previous career high of 27 points and has been described as something of a late bloomer.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.