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The Canadiens have signed Finnish centre Joonas Nattinen, their third-round pick in the 2009 draft.
The team announcement:
Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced today the signing of centreman Joonas Nattinen to a three-year, two-way contract. As per club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“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 in a competitive professional league in Finland for the past 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.
Nattinen registered two assists and served 12 penalty minutes in 21 games with Espoo and Hämeenlinna of the SM-Liiga (Finland) in 2010-11. Nattinen, 20, added two assists in four games with Espoo (Junior A SM- Liiga) and Suomi (Finland2).
In three seasons with Espoo and Hämeenlinna in the SM-Liiga, the 6’2’’, 186 lbs defenseman totalled 5 assists with 20 penalty minutes in 58 games. Nattinen recorded 55 points (16 goals, 39 assists) in 51 career games in the Junior A SM-Liiga.
Nattinen was part of the Finnish team at the last three World Junior Championships (Ottawa – 2009, Saskatchewan – 2010 and Buffalo – 2011). He registered 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 18 contests, including three goals in six games at the 2011 Championship.
A native of Jamsa, Finland, Nattinen was the Canadiens’ second pick (third round, 65th overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Nattinen is very good at analyzing the game – whether spotting teammates to create offense in the attacking zone or supporting defenders either in transition or in the defensive end. He has the size and willingness to win loose pucks either along the boards or in mid-ice. Not a natural scorer or shooter, he possesses a decent enough wrist shot that is accurate and quick. He plays with a lot of spirit and competitiveness and is very unselfish – often looking to create plays rather than shoot the puck. He is a disciplined player who does not take many penalties, though he could utilize his size to play more physically at times. Confident, for a young player (appeared in 19 SM-Liiga games as an 18-year-old and did not look out of place), he has the potential to be a special player as he grows and improves his strength.