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Panthers sign Santtu Kinnunen to entry-level contract

Finnish defenseman signs on the line which is dotted

Rogle Angelholm v Tappara Tampere - Champions Hockey League Final Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

The Florida Panthers have inked Finnish defenseman Santtu Kinnunen to an entry-level contract.

Kinnunen, 23, was selected in the seventh round (207th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

After spending time with Liiga organization Pelicans to start his pro career, Kinnunen signed a two-year deal after 2019-20 season with Tappara, where he really started to blossom.

In 2020-21, he appeared in 59 games, without playing down a level in Mestis, and posted career-highs with five goals, 14 assists and 19 points.

This season, he scored four times and set new highs in assists (19) and points (23) while posting a +18-rating in 54 regular season games.

He suited up in 13 of 15 postseason games as top-seeded Tappara claimed the league title with a 4-1 series win over TPS. He registered two assists in the playoffs.

With a total of 164 regular season Liiga games to his credit, Kinnunen got a considerable amount of seasoning in Finland, but will likely need to spend some time with the Charlotte Checkers adjusting to the North American game.