WILMINGTON, Mass. — Joonas Kemppainen could compete for an NHL roster spot in training camp after signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Boston Bruins in May.
Before that happens, the 27-year-old forward must recover from a hamstring injury that has prevented him from participating in the first two days of development camp at Ristuccia Arena.
“Hopefully. Maybe I have a little chance to make the ice,” Kemppainen said Wednesday. “I hope so.”
Kemppainen said the injury happened when he was doing speed drills in Finland last Monday, and that it was a case of “bad luck.” Even if Kemppainen isn’t able to participate in any drills, he still wants to impress the other players and coaching staff off the ice.
“Hopefully make a good first impression, even though I’m not on the ice, but it’s the first time I see face-to-face everybody here,” Kemppainen said. “So, I think it’s a good chance to give a good first impression.”
Kemppainen has never played professionally in North America, but he’s ready for the challenge after spending the last five seasons with Liiga club Karpat in Finland.
“I’m really excited because it’s the best league in the world,” Kemppainen said. “It’s a big step for me to come here.”
He added: “When I heard Boston was watching my games, I felt like, even the last year wasn’t that good here, but maybe like the last 10 years, this has been one of the best organizations in the NHL. So, I think it’s a great challenge for me to come here and I’m really excited.”
The Bruins play a responsible, defense-first style of hockey, and that type of game should suit Kemppainen, who was known for his two-way skill set in Finland.
“I think I’m a smart player who plays both ways,” Kemppainen said. “I think my strengths are defensive game and I think I can produce some offense, too.”
Kemppainen’s best chance of making the Bruins’ roster likely would be in a bottom-six role. He’s a candidate to replace Gregory Campbell as the fourth-line center.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@NHLBruinsUK