David Banks/USA Today Sports

Bruins hope to sign 2017 1st-round pick Urho Vaakanainen

Cameron Kerry
June 01, 2018 - 12:42 pm

Urho Vaakanainen, who the Bruins selected with the 17th overall pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, remains unsigned. Don Sweeney wants to change that.

Mark Divver of The Providence Journal reported Thursday that the Bruins hoped to ink the Finnish defenseman to an entry-level deal before the last week of June, when Bruins development camp commences.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed Divver’s report later in the day.

Speaking to reporters at the NHL Combine, Sweeney said, “[Urho] Vaakanainen will also be signing and playing over here. He played two full years in the Finnish Elite League against men and averaging about 23 minutes this year. Another one that – we’ll see."

Sweeney expanded on his statement, explaining that management is excited to see Vaakanainen compete at rookie camp, training camp, and in the preseason games in order to see how he stacks up compared to the wealth of defensive prospects in the Bruins system.

The 19-year-old defenseman played 43 games for SaiPa of the Liiga, Finland’s senior league, amassing four goals and 11 points. Vaakanainen is known for his crisp passes and active stick, intercepting passes and blocking shots due to his lighting-quick instincts and uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time.

Vaakanainen could play in North America or remain in Europe. If he comes across the pond, Vaakanainen would likely slide into a role with the Providence Bruins. Boston will likely bring back the core of the 2017-18 blueline, leaving limited minutes available to a newcomer. After facing North American competition for a season, Vaakanainen should be ready to make the jump up to the NHL.

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