Will the hero of the Lions World Cup gold team play in the NHL next season? 

Sakari Manninen, who shone in the Lions shirt at the World Championships, has enough winners for next season. NHL teams have been in contact with the Manninen agent who settled the final.

Will the hero of the Lions World Cup gold team play in the NHL next season? 

The employer of Sakari Manninen, who made Canada responsible for the 4th-3rd hockey World Championship final, is still in the dark. For the past three seasons, the 170-centimeter star striker played KHL in Ufa.

We figured out through an expert and Manninen’s agent how likely it is that a gold lion will play in the NHL next season. Already in the previous World Cup golden spring 2019, Manninen received offers from the NHL(switch to another service), but then he chose a moneyed deal between KHL and Ufa.

Hockey expert Ismo Lehkonen predicts that 30-year-old Manninen will play in Europe next season, but he would not close the NHL door completely.

- A certain kind of interest may come from North America. However, I would see that Manninen will play in Europe with a 70% probability, Lehkonen thought.

Manninen's player agent Arif Hairedin says that there have been a lot of clubs interested in Manninen lately. Contacts have come from Europe and North America.

- There has been a lot of demand during and after the World Cup, the phone has been ringing fast. We have discussions here, Haired's confirmation.

- The NHL is one pretty realistic option for Manninen. Work is now being done on it. It all depends, of course, on Zachar.

According to the agent, the NHL's two-way contracts are not an alternative to the gold lion, which has an Olympic gold medal in addition to two World Cup gold in its prize cabinet.

- We are not discussing two-way agreements at all. That is not an option for us. It’s a one-way deal if it’s the NHL, Haired’s line of condition.

These factors limit NHL dreams

A two-way deal means that if there is no room to play for the NHL team, the player will be sent to the AHL farm series. Lehkonen estimates that if a player is dropped into the AHL, it means a drop in salary of $ 75,000 to $ 90,000. If you play in the NHL, the pay is, of course, quite different.

According to Lehkonen, Manninen's biggest obstacles to the NHL transition are age, size, and the desire of NHL clubs to offer a two-way agreement.

Lehkonen sees that NHL teams may not dare to offer a one-way deal to a small player who has not yet proven with certainty that he will be able to score five to five in a small bowl.

- However, we are already talking about a guy in his thirties. The size of the 170-centimeter Manninen also poses a certain problem. The fact is, however, that when North American NHL team executives go here to watch the World Cup, there are young players under their magnifying glass.

Sakari Manninen ventilates his solution goal.
Sakari Manninen has been seen many times in the Lions shirt as a solver. This was also the case in the World Cup final in Tampere on Sunday. Photo: Tomi Hänninen

Manninen was the third most powerful player in Finland after Mikko Lehtonen (2 + 10) and Mikael Granlund (5 + 6) in the World Championships, which ended on Sunday, with ten points (6 + 4). He who received his puck lessons in Haukipudan Ahmo also shone 2 + 9 in the 2019 gold team.

- However, small size is no longer the burden it once was in the NHL. Then we go to the point where the little player has to be able to go into the narrow slots - he has to be able to fight.

- Yes, there are even small players in the NHL, but it causes certain things when the bowl narrows insanely. Then the average weight of the players increases by about 20 pounds and the length of the players by 5-6 cents, causing it certain problems.

If according to the NHL, a player's Specialty is only in a game of superiority, it may not be enough for a small player to be in an NHL contract.

- Almost every 32 NHL teams in the number one field have players in the clouds who are good with superiority and are able to solve games.

To Germany, Switzerland, or Sweden anyway?

Agent Hairedin does not see Manninen's small size or age as an obstacle to the emergence of an NHL contract.

- I don't see the size as a burden, because the game has become faster all the time. I don’t see any problem with that because Manninen is such a fast and strong player. Manninen is old, but a quality player is always a quality player.

"Sakari is the type he wants in the best place and the best league," Hairedin concluded.

European options are also still on the table for Manninen.

- Yes, all European series has been interested in Sakari for understandable reasons. No European offers have been ruled out.

According to Lehkonen, in Europe Manninen has enough options, such as Switzerland or Sweden, but he sees that Germany also has one option.

- Germany is gaining momentum, where player bonus budgets have risen insanely. Of course, as a successor to the Finnish Championship League, I would like the home country to be one good option. It is quite good that KHL has left the market - the level in Europe is rising quite insanely.

Six of the players in the World Cup gold team have not yet signed a contract for next season or at least have not been announced. As many as seven players have already signed a contract with Switzerland for next season. Five players from the Lions Gold Team are also currently in the Finnish Championship League.