Florida Panthers sign Aleksi Heponiemi to a three-year, entry-level contract
Finnish prospect signs on the line which is dotted
The Florida Panthers have agreed to terms with forward Aleksi Heponiemi on a three-year, entry-level contract beginning in the 2019-20 season.
“We are thrilled to have agreed to terms with Aleksi,” said general manager Dale Tallon. “He is an immensely skilled and dynamic player with excellent vision and hockey IQ. Aleksi has been an elite player at every level and a leader on winning teams on the junior and international stages. We look forward to Aleksi’s development with the Panthers and believe he will be an important part of our organization’s success for years to come.”
Heponiemi, 20, completed his first professional season, appearing in 50 games for Kärpät of Finland’s Liiga and producing 46 points (16G/30A). The 5-foot-11, 154-pound native of Tampere led all Liiga rookies in points, while finishing second on the club in points and tying for first in assists.
In the playoffs, Heponiemi tallied three goals in 17 games, a big drop-off from his regular season production,
On the international stage, Heponiemi won a gold medal with Finland at the 2019 IIHF U20 World Junior Championship registering a tournament-leading nine points and six assists.
Prior to his career in Liiga, Heponiemi played two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League (2016-17 to 2017-18), recording 204 points (56G/148A) over 129 games, so he is use to playing on the bigger North American rink.
In his rookie season with the Broncos, Heponiemi led all WHL rookies in assists (58) and points (86), winning the Jim Piggott Trophy as the rookie of the year.
In his second season in the WHL, Heponiemi posted a stellar 118 points (28G/90A) in 57 games and led the league in assists. Heponiemi capped off his final WHL season with a 30-point postseason effort (5G/25A) over 26 games en route to a WHL Championship with the Broncos and was named the WHL and Canadian Hockey League’s most sportsmanlike player.
Heponiemi was originally selected by Florida in the second round (40th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft.