The Montreal Canadiens announced earlier today that they have signed Finnish prospect, centerman Joonas Nattinen to a three year, two-way contract. While it is not the signing that everybody has been expecting to hear about, namely Andrei Markov, it is none-the-less an important addition to the team roster. The 6'2", 186 lbs, 20 years old Nattinen was drafted by the Habs in the third round (65th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Originally from Jamsa Finland, he was the top ranked Finnish Prospect in the 2009 Entry draft.
In 2010-2011 season, Nattinen played with the Espoo Blues and HPK Hameenlinna of the SM-liiga (Finland) and accumulated a total of 2 assists in 21 games. In his previous seasons with the Blues, he accumulated 3 assists in 37 games for a grand total of 5 assists in 58 games during his SM-liiga sejour, along with 20 penalty minutes. He has represented Finland three times in the World Junior Championships and has recorded 3 goals and 8 assists in 18 games.
"We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with Joonas Nattinen. Joonas is a promising young player with size and skills. Despite his young age, he proved to be a very good player ina competitive professional league in Finland for the last two seasons and also was a key member of the Finnish National team at the World Juniors last year," said Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier.
In the prospects circle, Nattinen is known as a playmaking center who is excellent on faceoffs and penalty killing. He has what the Habs lack at that position, a right hand shot centerman who has the size and the will to win loose pucks along the boards. His skills, strength, awareness and disciplined play are some of the reasons why he was ranked so high for the 2009 NHL Entry draft. A scount from the NHL Central Scounting said that Joonas plays well at both ends of the ice and moves the puck well from both sides. He also said that Joonas is a good passer on his backhand and is utilized on the penalty kill because of the fact that he is very responsible defensively. Hockeysfuture.com calls Nattinen competitive, unselfish, looking to create plays rather than shoot the puck and a confident young player.