Aleksi Saarela

Carolina Hurricanes
Photo Courtesy of gocheckers.com

Fantasy Summary

Talented winger has top six potential, with goal scoring upside at even strength and with the man advantage.


Attributes
Fantasy Upside 7
NHL Certainty 7.5
Country FIN
Position RW
Roster Type Minors
Shoot/Glove Left
Date of Birth January 7, 1997
Height 5‘11”
Weight 200 lbs
Drafted 2015 Round 3; Overall: 89

Observations

May 2018 – Saarela took the AHL by storm last year before the Charlotte Checkers bowed out of the AHL playoffs with 10 points in his first nine games in North America. The Finnish forward was a key offensive contributor for the Checkers this season, finishing third on the team with 25 goals. Somewhat surprising that the 21-year-old has yet to make his NHL debut, even for a quick look with the big club, but his opportunity likely will not be far off if he continues to produce in what will be his second full professional season in the AHL.  Kevin LeBlanc

April 2017 – With Lukko (Liiga) this season Saarela led his team in goals with 15, and finished the year with 28 points. After completion of his season in Finland, the forward joined the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. Since making his debut in North America, Saarela has posted five goals and two assists in just five AHL games. With the Checkers fighting for the playoffs, he will be a key player down the stretch for Charlotte, and could potentially be in the Hurricanes lineup as early as next season.  Kevin LeBlanc

June 2016 – After being traded from the New York Rangers as the centerpiece of the Eric Staal deal, Saarela completed a solid season for Assat with 33 points in 51 games. His 20 goals led his team despite missing numerous games due to a midseason injury.  Kevin LeBlanc

January 2016- Saarela earned the opportunity to play for his home country of Finland in the 2016 U-20 World Junior Championships, a tournament being held on his home turf. That was just the beginning for Saarela, who managed to average a point-per-game in the tournament, scoring four goals and adding three assists in an effort that culminated in a gold medal. The gold medal game against Russia is a memory Aleksi will cherish forever, it was a back and forth matchup that would need an added period to decide the champion.  The game was 1:33 into overtime when Saarela made a strong play in the offensive zone and found teammate Kasperi Kapanen, who made a power move around the net to tuck one of the biggest goals in Finnish hockey history beating the Russians 4-3, and receiving the lone assist on Kapanen’s overtime goal. Concluding the celebration that I’m sure will last all night in Finland, Saarela will return to Ässät of the Finnish Elite League (Liiga), where he began this season. In the first 27 games he’s played with Ässät, Aleksi has 10 goals, five assists, and a plus-4 rating. If he carries the momentum he has from the World Juniors, a spike in scoring could be on tap for Saarela, who is trending in the right direction for the New York Rangers. Bryan Puffer

December 2015 – Looks like New York Rangers scouting staff once again found good value in the third round. Saarela was previously held as a first-round talent, but dropped last June to the third because of injuries and last two year’s lack of production. Lo and behold, Saarela has taken a turn and has had a good season in FEL. He scored ten goals and added five helpers in 27 games with Assat which earned him a spot on the Finnish WJC team. The small winger (5-11) with a strong build (200 lbs) has a shoot-first mentality, is solid in faceoffs and on PK. Saarela will play third line minutes for the Finnish national team alongside with Julius Nattinen and Juho Lammikko in this year’s U20 World Junior Championship in Helsinki. Jozsef Kurtosi

June 2015 – The New York Rangers selected Aleksi Saarela with the 89th pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Brendan Ross

June 2015 – Once regarded as a potential first-rounder after dominating junior leagues in his home country of Finland, Saarela’s stock has fallen recently. While he still remains an early to mid-round selection in the upcoming draft, questions about his ability to stay healthy have dogged him in recent years. He spent last season in Finland’s top professional league with Assat and experienced success in limited ice time. Saarela is short with a stocky frame, and while he isn’t the most technically sound skater, it is not an area of major concern. His main challenge to overcome is his defensive play, which will need to improve if he wants to make an impact at the next level. Matt Donohue


Stats

 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2010-2011 Lukko U16 Jr. C SM-sarja Q 1 1 0 1 0 |          
  Lukko U16 Jr. C SM-sarja 1 1 1 2 0 |          
 2011-2012 Lukko U16 Jr. C SM-sarja Q 8 11 17 28 4 |          
  Lukko U16 Jr. C SM-sarja 28 33 39 72 26 | Playoffs 9 14 15 29
  Finland U16 (all) International-Jr - - - - - |          
 2012-2013 Lukko U18 Jr. B SM-sarja 16 17 19 36 14 |          
  Lukko U20 Jr. A SM-liiga 22 8 10 18 6 | Playoffs 10 2 6 8
  Lukko Liiga 3 1 1 2 0 |          
  Finland U17 WHC-17 5 2 2 4 2 |          
  Finland U17 (all) International-Jr 4 1 1 2 2 |          
 2013-2014 Lukko U20 Jr. A SM-liiga 17 6 16 22 8 |          
  Lukko Liiga 12 0 2 2 2 |          
  Finland U18 WJC-18 2 1 0 1 0 |          
  Finland U18 (all) International-Jr 2 1 0 1 0 |          
 2014-2015 Ässät Liiga 51 6 6 12 18 | Playoffs 2 0 0 0
  Finland U18 WJC-18 7 3 5 8 6 |          
  Finland U18 (all) International-Jr 8 3 6 9 6 |          
  Finland U20 (all) International-Jr 7 0 0 0 2 |          
 2015-2016 Ässät U20 Jr. A SM-liiga 2 0 2 2 0 | Playoffs 3 1 2 3
  Ässät Liiga 51 20 13 33 14 |          
  Finland U20 WJC-20 7 4 3 7 4 |          
  Finland U20 (all) International-Jr 15 5 7 12 2 |          
  Finland EHT 2 0 0 0 0 |          
  Finland (all) International 5 1 1 2 0 |          
 2016-2017 Lukko Liiga 49 15 13 28 10 |          
  Lukko Champions HL 1 1 0 1 0 |          
  Charlotte Checkers AHL 9 6 4 10 2 | Playoffs 5 0 0 0
 2017-2018 Charlotte Checkers AHL 69 25 18 43 8 | Playoffs 8 2 1 3
 2018-2019 Charlotte Checkers AHL 4 0 2 2 0 |          

Highlights