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Florida Panthers sign Tappara defenseman Santtu Kinnunen to ELC

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Florida Panthers prospect Santtu Kinnunen signed his entry-level contract with the team on Monday. — Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

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 
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