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Blackhawks Sign Salmelainen, Re-Sign Kukkonen

by Staff Writer / Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that the team has signed right wing Tony Salmelainen to a 2-year contract and has re-signed defenseman Lasse Kukkonen to a 1-year contract.

Salmelainen was acquired by the Blackhawks in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Jaroslav Spacek on Jan. 26, 2006. Salmelainen was Edmonton's 2nd round selection and the 41st overall pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

In 2005-06, Salmelainen played for HIFK Helsinki in the Finnish Elite League amassing 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points in 53 games. Salmelainen's 27 goals and 55 points both led the Finnish Elite League. He also recorded a plus-26 rating and 63 penalty minutes. The 24-year-old Salmelainen also tallied four goals and two assists for six points in 12 playoff games for HIFK Helsinki.

The 5'9", 185 lbs. right wing was awarded three trophies in the Finnish Elite League in 2005-06: the Lasse Oksanen Trophy (the best player during the regular season), the Aarne Honkavaara Trophy (the best goal scorer during regular season) and Veli-Pekka Ketola Trophy (for the most points scored during regular season).

Salmelainen appeared in 13 games for Edmonton in 2003-04 season, recording one assist and four penalty minutes. He also played with the Toronto Roadrunners of AHL during the 2003-04 season, recording 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists), a plus-10 rating and 27 penalty minutes in 58 games played.

In 2004-05, the winger registered 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists), a plus-9 rating and 26 penalty minutes in 76 games for the Roadrunners, which moved to Edmonton that season.

Kukkonen, 25, was selected by the Blackhawks in the 5th round, 151st overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. The 6.01, 187 pound defenseman appeared in 56 games for Karpat in Finland's Elite League this past season recording 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points, 38 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of plus-30. Kukkonen also played in 10 playoff games this season recording five goals and four assists for nine points, eight penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of plus-5.

Kukkonen has played in Finland's Elite League for four of the last five seasons (2001-02 to 2002-03 & 2004-05 to 2005-06) for Karpat appearing in 222 career games recording 24 goals and 47 assists for 71 points and 215 penalty minutes. He has also appeared in 41 career playoff games for Karpat recording six goals and 13 assists for 19 points and 34 penalty minutes. Kukkonen's play has also extended to international ice representing Finland twice at the World Championships (2005 & 2006) and at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Kukkonen played in North American during the 2003-04 season splitting time between the Blackhawks and the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL. He has appeared in 10 career NHL games with the Blackhawks having made the club that season out of training camp, recording an assist and four penalty minutes. While with the Admirals he appeared in 59 games recording three goals and 11 assists for 14 points and 58 penalty minutes. Kukkonen also appeared in eight playoff games for the Admirals and did not score.

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