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Aleksi Heponiemi Leaves Florida Panthers, Signs in Switzerland

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Aleksi Heponiemi has left the Florida Panthers and will play this season in Switzerland. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

Aleksi Heponiemi will play in Europe this season as he has left the Florida Panthers to sign a one-year deal in Switzerland.

Heponiemi, 24, spent most of the past four seasons playing for Florida’s various AHL teams including the Charlotte Checkers.

Although Heponiemi played in 10 NHL games with the Panthers this past season, he played in 62 for the Checkers.

A second-round pick by the Panthers in 2017, Heponiemi remains a part of the organization as the team made him a qualifying offer.

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He will play this season with EHC Biel.

Heponiemi had a strong training camp in 2022 and, had the Panthers not had salary cap problems, he may have started the season with Florida.

He was recalled when Sasha Barkov was out with pneumonia and ended up scoring a goal with three points in his 10 games.

The Panthers currently have 13 forwards signed to one-way deals so it would have been an uphill climb for Heponiemi to start this season in the NHL.

“He is a player you can put into any hole on your top-12 and you know exactly what to expect from him,” coach Paul Maurice said in December. “He is an incredibly bright player. I know he’s not the biggest guy out there, but if he fights hard enough — and he’s so smart — he’s going to make things happen.

”Sometimes when guys get called up, they play it safe. He is smart enough to play it safe, but he makes plays and I like that. He has a confidence and a fight in him … there’s just something there.”

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