Brian Liesse

Sami Moilanen reportedly returning to Finland

It has been reported that 1999-born Finnish winger Sami Moilanen is leaving the Seattle Thunderbirds to return to play in Finland. He will reportedly join Tappara of the Liiga league for the 2018-19 campaign.

Tappara has 17 national titles, making it the most successful Finnish franchise ever.

Moilanen was drafted by Seattle 52nd overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft and had an immediate impact in the WHL.

The speedy forward, who does not shy away from physical play was in Seattle’s middle-six forward group in 2016-17, notching 21 goals and adding 22 assists for 43 points in 70 games.

He also chipped in 16 points in 20 playoff games as the Thunderbirds won their first ever Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions.

Moilanen ran into injury issues this year and only got into 50 games, compiling 45 points.

He played in just three games in the WHL playoffs as he left Game 3 of Seattle’s five-game opening round series with the Everett Silvertips after taking a hit from Matt Fonteyne.

If true, the loss of Moilanen – who was an assistant captain this year – is a key on for Seattle, who will now lose a total of four of their top-eight scorers from 2017-18. Three of the four remaining scorers from that group are overagers this coming year.

Moilanen would have likely played on Seattle’s top line in 2018-19 and been relied upon to play big minutes as a power play and penalty kill participant.

With import forward Nikita Malukhin likely returning, Seattle would now have an import position open. Look for them to make a selection in late-June’s CHL Import draft.

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