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Jets Sign Draft Finnish Draft Pick Sami Niku

By Scott Taylor/Photo courtesy IIHF

Believed to still be a few seasons away, the Winnipeg Jets have decided to bring 20-year-old Sami Niku to training camp this fall.

On Monday, the Jets announced they’ve agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract with an annual value of $916,700 with the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Finnish defenseman.

Niku played his third season with JYP of Liiga in Finland during the 2016-17 season, posting five goals and 27 points in 59 games. He also had a goal and six points in 15 playoff games.

He averaged a team-leading 19:47 TOI during the regular season and 20:32 TOI during the playoffs in helping JYP win the bronze medal. Niku was tied for the team lead during the regular season with three game-winning goals and tied for third on the team with 201 shots. During the past three seasons, he had nine goals and 39 points in 109 games with JYP.

Niku is a smart defenseman who makes the initial break-out pass quickly and with accuracy. He also controls puck well and is responsible in all three zones. He isn’t Josh Morrissey but he might be better than Toby Enstrom, especially in terms of size and grit. It’s unlikely he’ll play with the Jets in 2017-18, but stranger things have happened.

Niku was drafted by the Jets in the seventh round (198th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft. He’s the fourth Jets selection from the 2015 NHL Draft to sign an NHL entry-level contract, joining forwards Kyle Connor, Jack Roslovic and Jansen Harkins.

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