Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen seems determined to make a European free agent signing work in Columbus, or at the very least he is exploring all of his options overseas. Once again, the Jackets signed a European player to an entry-level deal. This spring, Markus Hannikainen inked a two-year deal with the club.
Hannikainen has been a steady producer on the ice as a LW in Finland, coming up through the ranks in the Jokerit program (Jarmo's old club) before piling up 19-27-46 in 60 games with JYP last season. Like Simon Hjalmarsson and Ilari Melart in prior years, Hannikainen's signing is a low-risk move. It gives the team another option in training camp and he has the potential to surprise. That said, most believe Hannikainen will start in Cleveland or potentially head back to Europe.
This was not an "out of the blue" signing. Jarmo clearly had his eye on Hannikainen for some time as he was invited to the 2014 development camp in Columbus. The young Fin brings some size on the left side at 6'2'' and the team is hoping to see if his offensive game can translate to North America. He will have to turn some heads at camp to make the opening roster with how loaded the forward pool is.
Hometown: Helsinki, Finland
Draft Status: Undrafted
Cap Hit: $717,500 (NHL)