Carolina Hurricanes prospect Aleksi Saarela will miss the 2016 Traverse City Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, the team announced Tuesday. Saarela has undergone an unspecified “minor surgery.”
While the update was short on details, the team expects the recovery period to be equally short, even leaving open the possibility that the 19-year-old forward could be healthy enough to participate in training camp, which will open on Sept. 23.
Though young, Saarela will enter camp looking to earn a roster spot. The 2015 third-round draft pick of the New York Rangers had an excellent 18-year-old season in the Finnish Liiga, scoring 20 goals and 33 points in 51 games for Ässät. He was also a key piece of the Finnish offensive attack during the national team’s gold medal victory on home ice at the 2016 World Junior Championship.
He became a part of the Carolina farm system at the 2016 trade deadline when Carolina traded captain Eric Staal to the New York Rangers. Carolina retained 50 percent of Staal’s salary and acquired two second-round draft picks along with Saarela. Carolina eventually packaged up their 2015 second-round pick in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that saw them acquire Teuvo Teravainen.
The ‘Canes signed Saarela to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.