Predators sign free agent forward prospect out of Finland

Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 6:00pm
Staff reports

The Nashville Predators’ seemingly never-ending quest for offense took them to Finland on Thursday.

The team signed 23-year-old right wing Juuso Puustinen to a two-year, two-way contract at an NHL salary of $550,000 and an AHL salary of $60,000.

Puustinen averaged a point per game in two seasons (2006-08) with the Kamloops Blazers after being drafted in the fifth round (149th overall) by the Calgary Flames in 2006. He had 59 goals and 65 assists for 124 points in 124 contests.

The Flames never signed him and he played professionally in Finland for the past three seasons.

Puustinen ranked fourth in the Finnish Elite League last season with 26 goals for HPK Hameenlinna. He also was fifth in points with 38. He was that league’s highest-scoring rookie in 2008 when he had 34 points for Espoo. His 20 assists in 2008-09 also led all first-year players.

He is the second free agent signed by Nashville from the European ranks so far this offseason. Last month, the Predators signed defenseman Victor Bartley, also 23, out of Sweden’s second division.

The team hopes to bring Puustinen over for the rookie development camp, June 27-July 4.