Having twice denied reports stating that he was headed to the Russian league towards the end of the season, Hurricanes prospect Oskar Osala
delivered a different bit of news this week.
On Wednesday, Osala, a 23-year-old forward who spent last season with the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, confirmed a Finnish report claiming he had signed with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of the KHL. Osala is set to be a restricted free agent next season.
“This time for real,” said Osala via his Twitter page. “I will be playing for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk next season. I want to thank @washcaps @thehersheybears @NHL_canes @checkershockey and all my team mates for 3 fun & learning yrs. Im excited to move on but hope to be back one day. #newchapter”
Osala, a 6-foot-4, 219-pound left wing, ranked eighth on the Checkers with 42 points (13g, 29a) in 59 games. He scored 5 points in 15 playoff games, 4 of which came in a two-game span during the team’s first-round victory against the Hershey Bears.
Osala, who recently left Charlotte at the conclusion of the Checkers’ season to return to his home in Finland, was thought to be well behind the likes of fellow prospects Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe for a full-time job with the Hurricanes next season. However, General Manager Jim Rutherford recently stated a belief that Osala could still develop into an NHL player if he could develop more foot speed.
Originally a fourth-round draft choice of the Washington Capitals in 2006, Osala was acquired by the Hurricanes at the 2010 trade deadline along with a second-round pick in exchange for Joe Corvo.