Then and Now: Ossi Vaananen

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After playing the 2007-2008 season in the Elitserien, defenseman Ossi Vaananen returned to the NHL to play for the Philadelphia Flyers. The Finn signed a one-year contract worth $1 million for the 2008-2009 campaign.

Vaananen participated in a total of 46 games for Philly. He registered nine assists and ten points overall. The blue liner also deposited his final goal in the NHL (go to :55), which came in the first period of the Flyers’ 5-4 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on January 2nd, 2009. The contest also featured Josh Gratton’s lone goal for the Orange and Black, as well as Corey Perry’s elbow to Claude Giroux’s head that resulted in a four-game suspension for the Anaheim forward.

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After Vaananen missed a total of eight games due to an upper-body injury, lower-body injury, and a finger injury, the Flyers waived the defenseman. His final game for Philly was the squad’s 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on February 25th, 2009.

He was picked up off waivers by the Vancouver Canucks and played a total of three regular season games for the organization: A 5-2 Canucks’ win over the Dallas Stars on March 24th, 2009, a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on March 26th, and a 1-0 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche on April 11th. Vaananen registered one point in these games, as he recorded the secondary assist on Ryan Kesler’s third period goal in Vancouver’s win over the Stars. He also had 22 PIMs and a plus-7 rating.

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In the 2009 postseason Vaananen took part in three games for the Canucks. His first was Vancouver’s victory in Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals’ meeting against the Blues to complete their sweep. Vaananen also suited up for Games 3 and 4 of the Canucks’ Western Conference Semifinals’ series against the Chicago Blackhawks. The blue liner went pointless with an even plus/minus rating as well as two PIMs.

This turned out to be Vaananen’s final taste of the NHL, as he joined Dinamo Minsk of the KHL for the 2009-2010 campaign. Defenseman Duvie Westcott and forward Ville Peltonen were also members of Dinamo Minsk while Vaananen was a member.

The defenseman played in 52 regular season contests for Dinamo Minsk and recorded six assists, as well as 76 PIMs and a minus-10 rating. Vaananen led all players on Dinamo Minsk in games played without a single goal and he finished with the second-worst plus-minus rating for the campaign out of the 41 skaters to suit up for the squad. Dinamo Minsk finished 17th in the 24-team KHL with 17 wins in 56 games.

Vaananen also played for Finland in the 2009-2010 Euro Hockey Tour. The defenseman went pointless in his five appearances during the EHT, but he did register 10 PIMs.

This was the only season Vaananen spent in the KHL, as he joined Helsingin Jokerit of the SM-liiga for the 2010-2011 campaign. On a team featuring Petteri Nokelainen, Vaananen was named the captain in his first season with the club.

After failing to score a single goal during the 2009-2010 hockey year, Vaananen scored two goals in 60 regular season games. He also had 11 assists as well as a plus-9 rating. His 79 PIMs was the highest total for any of Jokerit’s defenseman in a year the club finished sixth in the 14-team SM-liiga to qualify for the playoffs.

Jokerit lost in the Quarterfinals to HIFK 4-3. Vaananen had a goal and two assists in the seven-game series.

Vaananen represented Finland at the EHT for a second straight year, as the defenseman had an assist in six games and watched his country finish third in the four-team field.

The blue liner also represented Finland for the 2011 IIHF World Championship. He went pointless in nine games, as his native country won the Gold Medal.

Vaananen returned for his second season as captain of Jokerit for the 2011-2012 season, as the team added Jarkko Ruutu and Teuvo Teravainen.

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With five goals and 16 assists in 57 games, Vaananen finished with the highest PIMs total for a defenseman on Jokerit and second overall in the category with 98.

Jokerit didn’t win the SM-liiga title in 2012, but they did earn the Bronze Medal with a 4-3 double overtime win over the Espoo Blues. Vaananen had a goal and two assists in 10 games for Jokerit during the postseason.

For a third straight year Vaananen was a member of Finland’s team during the Euro Hockey Tour. Serving as an alternate captain, Vaananen had three assists in nine games to help Finland finish second.

Vaananen experienced his second straight year at the IIHF World Championship in 2012, as Finland lost to the Czech Republic in the Bronze Medal Game by the score of 3-2. The defenseman had an assist in 10 games during the WC.

Currently, Vaananen is enduring his third season as the captain of Jokerit. He has recently enjoyed the company of Erik Karlsson and Valtteri Filppula. In 19 games so far, Jokerit is 9-4-6. Vaananen has two assists in 17 contests.