The Nashville Predators made their first personnel move of the offseason Wednesday when they signed free agent defenseman Joonas Järvinen out of Finland.
The 23-year-old agreed to a two-year, two-way deal after five seasons in the Finnish Elite League. He finished second among that league’s defensemen with a plus-28 rating and helped his team, Pelicans Lahti, to the league championship series.
A 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, he set career-highs with five goals, 18 assists, 23 points and 125 penalty minutes in 2011-12. In fact, his point total was two more than what he had in his first four seasons combined.
He then added three assists in 10 games for Finland at the recently completed World Championships.
With three defensemen from last year’s team, including Ryan Suter, scheduled for unrestricted free agency, Järvinen offers an affordable, but more seasoned option along the blue line than some recent draft picks. He also already has NHL size.
Moves such as this are nothing new for Nashville. Last June, it signed right wing Juuso Puustinen out of Finland but Puustinen played the entire season at Milwaukee. One of the more successful transactions of this sort was when right wing Vladimir Orszagh signed on June 1, 2001. He had 15 goals and 21 assists in 79 games for the Predators that season and was a fixture in the lineup for three years.