Ottawa Senators’ sign European defenseman Nikolas Matinpalo to one-year contract

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      The Ottawa Senators announced Thursday that the club has signed Finnish defenseman Nikolas Matinpalo to a one-year, entry-level contract.

      Matinpalo spent the 2022-23 season playing in the Finnish Elite League (LIIGA) for Assat Pori, where he totalled a career-high 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 51 regular season games. Matinpalo’s totals ranked him second among team defensemen for points; he also tied for second in the plus/minus column. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound defender added four points in eight playoff games. He has registered 34 points in 205 regular season games throughout his career playing for Assat and Ilves.

      The 24-year-old undrafted right-shot defenseman is currently representing Finland at the IIHF World Hockey Championships being held in his native country of Finland. In seven games thus far, he has registered three points (one goal, two assists) and helped the Finns reach the Quarterfinals round, which will be played against Canada this afternoon. He notched a multi-point effort against Denmark in Finland’s 7-1 win on Tuesday to round out the round-robin portion of the tournament.

      “Matinpalo has had a good tournament for Finland, his first World Championship appearance,” said Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff’s prospect analyst. “He hasn’t played a ton, but he’s getting at least a few shots every night and was one of the best players in a big win over Denmark to close out the round-robin. Good skater who loves the puck on his stick. The numbers don’t seem to always follow, but he took big steps to improve his game over the past two years.”

      Matinpalo is expected to join the Senators for training camp this summer, where he will battle for a roster spot among other Sens’ defensemen.

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