Jets recall Vesalainen as reports swirl he may bolt for KHL

Rookie forward Kristian Vesalainen was recalled Friday from the Manitoba Moose, a day after a Finnish media report indicated he was likely bolting to the KHL next week to play for a team based in Helsinki, his home town.

His overseas rights were acquired by Jokerit earlier this week, a possible signal the 19-year-old was exercising a clause in his contract to return home instead of playing in the American Hockey League.

Vesalainen’s promotion blocks his departure for now. But the clause stipulates he can return to Europe at any point he’s not up with the Jets.

The timing of the recall is somewhat odd. The Moose play back-to-back this weekend in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Chicago, and could have used Vesalainen’s services. Winnipeg, meanwhile, has an off-day Saturday, leaves for Vancouver on Sunday for the start of four-game road trip Monday against the Canucks and doesn’t necessarily need another extra healthy forward, with Brendan Lemieux already in the press box.

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Rookie forward Kristian Vesalainen was recalled Friday from the Manitoba Moose, a day after a Finnish media report indicated he was likely bolting to the KHL next week to play for a team based in Helsinki, his home town.

His overseas rights were acquired by Jokerit earlier this week, a possible signal the 19-year-old was exercising a clause in his contract to return home instead of playing in the American Hockey League.

Vesalainen’s promotion blocks his departure for now. But the clause stipulates he can return to Europe at any point he’s not up with the Jets.

The timing of the recall is somewhat odd. The Moose play back-to-back this weekend in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Chicago, and could have used Vesalainen’s services. Winnipeg, meanwhile, has an off-day Saturday, leaves for Vancouver on Sunday for the start of four-game road trip Monday against the Canucks and doesn’t necessarily need another extra healthy forward, with Brendan Lemieux already in the press box.

Vesalainen, Winnipeg’s 2017 first-round pick, cracked the Jets roster out of training camp and earned one assist in five contests before being reassigned to Manitoba. He’s been with the Moose since Oct. 19, firing three goals and adding five assists in eight AHL games.

If he plays five more games with the Jets, the 10-game total burns a year of his entry-level contract for the Jets.

– Bell