CORAL SPRINGS — The Florida Panthers signed 2018 seventh-round pick Santtu Kinnunen to an entry-level contract on Monday.
The 6-2, 161-pound defenseman won the Liiga Championship with Tampere Tappara in the 2021-22 season.
Sasha Barkov, a Tempere native and part owner of Tappara, was watching his team’s championship run closely.
“Over the last few years, he has been stepping up a lot in his game,” Barkov said.
“The physical part, the mental part, he’s becoming a leader on the defense for that team. It’s been fun to watch them ever since he got there and you can see him growing in height and in being a leader.
“He’s physical too. He’s really good with the puck, he makes really good plays on the power play, he has a good shot, he’s a good passer, so I’m excited for him.”
Kinnunen, 23, had 23 points in 54 games during the 2021-22 season, adding two assists in 13 playoff games en route to a championship.
“Santtu is a talented defenseman who has proven himself playing professionally in Finland with Tappara Tampere,” Panthers GM Bill Zito said in a statement.
“We look forward to watching him further his growth and development as he transitions to hockey in North America.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
VS. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (Best of 7)
- Game 1: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN2
- Radio: WQAM 560, SiriusXM
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- Season series — Florida won 2-1: @Florida 5, Washington 4 OT (Nov. 4); @Washington 4, Panthers 3 (Nov. 26); @Florida 5, Washington 4 (Nov. 30)
- All-time regular season series: Capitals lead 67-44-11, 9 ties
- Playoff history: None
- First-round schedule — Game 1: Washington at Florida, Tuesday, 7:30 (ESPN2/BSF); Game 2: Washington at Florida, Thursday, 7:30 (TBS/BSF); Game 3: Florida at Washington, Saturday, 1 (ESPN/BSF); Game 4: Florida at Washington, May 9, 7 (TBS/BSF); Game 5*: Washington at Florida, May 11; Game 6*: Florida at Washington, May 13; Game 7: Washington at Florida, May 15. *If necessary