By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins are aiming to get 2017 draft pick Urho Vaakanainen signed before the start of the club's annual rookie development camp on June 23, according to a report from Mark Divver of the Providence Journal.
Drafted by the Bruins with the 18th overall pick last year, the 6-foot-1 defenseman recorded four goals and 11 points in 43 games for SaiPa of the Finnish Elite League last season. It was a two-goal and five-point improvement from his 41-game run with JYP last season, and gives the two-way defender seven goals and 23 points in 109 games in Liiga since 2015-16.
"You’re talking about a 17-year-old kid that played in the Finnish Elite League. So, for him to put up huge offensive numbers, I think would be pretty tough," Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said of Vaakanainen last summer. "I think now, going into his second year there, a little more confident. Obviously, you hear more growth. You’ll see maybe a little more of an uptick there. But, he’s a smooth skater. He sees the ice well, he’s got good size, and he can make plays."
In addition to his pro game with SaiPa last season, Vaakanainen skated for Finland at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo this past season, where he contributed one assist and a plus-three rating in five games.
If signed, the Bruins would likely prefer to have Vaakanainen in their backyard in Providence, where he can skate with their coaching staff, learn the B's system, and get acclimated to the North American game as a whole, but the Providence pipeline is loaded with left-shot defenders as is, with Emil Johansson, Jeremy Lauzon, and Jakub Zboril on the farm.
But according to Divver's report, it's not yet known where Vaakanainen would play if he's indeed signed, be it with that loaded Providence group under P-Bruins head coach Jay Leach or back in Europe for a fourth year in Liiga.
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.