The Seattle Kraken announced on Monday that they’ve signed defenseman Ville Ottavainen to a two-way, three-year contract with a $867,500 salary cap hit per season at the NHL level. He’ll make $80K next season if he plays in the minors, $75K the two seasons after that.
“We are excited to officially add Ville to our organization,” Seattle Kraken General Manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “We are impressed with his growth over the last two seasons while playing in Finland and are looking forward to his continued development with our club.”
He’s a big boy. The 6-foot-5, 210 pound Oulu native has played the last two-and-a-half seasons back home in Finland in that country’s top professional circuit, SM Liiga. In 51 games this season for the club called JyP HT Jyvaksyla, he had five goals and 11 assists.
JYP finished third from the bottom in the 15 team league and missed the postseason. The 1st-round of the playoffs are already underway in Finland. Ottavainen, a 20-year-old righty, was free to move along.
Ottavainen was drafted by the Kraken in 2021 in the 4th round of the NHL Draft, 99th-overall. He’s already been on this side of ‘the Pond’ for a season, having played for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2019-’20. He scored four goals and added 11 assists in his OHL season.
European scouts point out that there’s plenty of work to do and part of it has to do with Ottavainen growing into his large frame and dealing with a bit of awkwardness. That process is well underway. He’s becoming more mobile and efficient with the puck.
It’s hard enough developing into an NHL defenseman, but particularly when one is lanky. Just ask 6-foot-9 recently retired NHL legend Zdeno Chara. He was like a baby giraffe when he arrived from Slovakia and joined Prince George of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 1996.
It might not be at Chara’s level of intensity, but Ottavainen is not afraid. He’ll check aggressively with the stick and the body.
He represented Finland in a number of international competitions in his teenage years, but unfortunately had his World Junior Championship opportunity cut short when the 2021 tournament was cancelled due to Covid.
Here’s a Seattle Kraken daydream: How about Ty Nelson on the left side and Ottavainen on the right as a future pairing at Climate Pledge Arena. A sturdy puck mover with a potential beast.
This will take some time, but if Ottavainen eventually works out on the Seattle Kraken blueline, the club will be reaping the benefits for years to come.