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Road Runners sign Niinimaki

The Edmonton Road Runners have announced forward Jesse Niinimaki has agreed to a one-year American Hockey League contract.

Niinimaki, the Oilers’ first-round draft choice (15th overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, is in his fourth season with Ilves Tampere in the Finnish Elite League and has recorded eight points (4-4-8) in 18 games this season.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound centre played in only 10 games last season, recording six points (3-3-6), before requiring season-ending shoulder surgery.

Road Runners General Manager Scott Howson says, “Jesse is a skilled player who we think will benefit from playing in the American Hockey League. He has shown some progress this season and we feel bringing him to Edmonton will help prepare him for the next level.”

The 21-year-old native of Tampere, Finland, had a career-high 17 points (4-13-17) during the 2002-03 season. That same season, Niinimaki notched four points (1-3-4) in seven games at the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championship, helping Team Finland earn a bronze medal.

Niinimaki will be arriving in Edmonton later today and will join the Road Runners at some point during their current six-game road trip.