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Bruins sign first-round pick Urho Vaakanainen to entry-level deal

Scott McLaughlin
June 13, 2018 - 3:43 pm

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said earlier this offseason that he was hoping to get 2017 first-round pick Urho Vaakanainen signed and playing in North America next season, and now he has. The team announced Wednesday that it has signed the Finnish defenseman to a three-year entry-level contract.

The 19-year-old Vaakanainen has spent the last two seasons playing in Finland's Liiga, the country's top pro league, where he played top-pairing minutes against older players. He had four goals and seven assists in 43 games this past season, but he's known more as a defense-first defenseman.

Vaakanainen, who is a left shot, is one of the Bruins' top prospects and could get a chance to compete for an NHL roster spot right away, although it seems more likely he'll begin his North American career with Providence in the AHL.

Long-term, the hope is that Vaakanainen will develop into a top-four left-side defenseman and help fill the void Zdeno Chara will eventually leave behind. Now that he's signed and playing stateside, the Bruins will be able to monitor Vaakanainen's progress much more closely.

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