March 03, 2016

Kari Haakana

Kari Haakana was a big, aggressive, shutdown defenseman out of Finland, though he travelled a lot through Europe. He would spend significant time in his lengthy career in Sweden and Germany, as well as brief stops in Switzerland and Austria.

But Haakana did not seem to like North America too much.

Drafted 248th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2001, the Oilers brought Haakana to Edmonton in the 2001-02 season. He made his NHL debut just shy of his 29th birthday.

The Oilers were hoping for some veteran help from Europe on their blue line as they also signed 24 year old Ales Pisa out of the Czech Republic. Neither really worked.

In the case of Haakana he would play just 13 games with the Oilers, and another 12 in the minor leagues that season, before returning to Europe to play in Europe until 2001.

There was some suspicion that Edmonton specifically sought out Haakana's services as a countryman to mentor young Finnish prospects Janne Niinimaa and Jani Rita.

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