The Minnesota Wild has come to terms with free agent Swedish forward Michael Keranen.
The club announced this afternoon that it has signed Keranen to a one-year two-way contract for the 2014-15 season. A 24-year old 6’1″ 176-pound forward, Keranen was a point-per-game player for Ilves of the Finnish SM-Liiga. In 52 regular season games, he scored 17 goals and 35 assists for 52 points and a plus-12 rating.
Here’s what EliteProspects.com has to say about the talented Swede:
Keränen is a skilled offensive minded forward. A fast and flashy dangler who likes to challenge the opponents. Able to set up his team mates with deft passes, but also to score by himself. Not a slouch defensively, but his talent goes to waste as a bottom six. A bit of a late bloomer. (EP 2014)
As this would suggest, it’s highly unlikely the signing is purely for depth purposes only. Either Wild GM Chuck Fletcher expects Keranen to make a significant impact as a top-6 forward with Minnesota, or a season-long tryout in Iowa is in the works leading up to the 2015-16 NHL season. In 195 career SM-Liiga games, the intriguing young forward has 41 goals and 60 assists for 101 points and a negative-24 rating.
The interesting thing is that Keranen is just the latest intriguing young forward to be snatched up by the Wild in free agency as he joins fellow center/right wing prospects Brady Brassart and Zack Mitchell who were inked straight out of Canadian major juniors. It’s too early to say anything for sure, but could Fletcher be stocking up on young forward talent with the idea in mind that the club’s top selection later this month is to be used to shore up depth in goal? It’s a fascinating story line to keep tabs on as the draft draws closer with each passing day. Either way, this has the makings of another savvy signing by Fletcher.