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Ilves announced important contract extensions – captain Eemeli Suomi stays at the club

Ilves Hockey Oy

Ilves has signed contract extensions with eight players and one coach. Goaltender Marek Langhamer, defenseman Simon Johansson, forwards Petri Kontiola, Balázs Sebők and Eemeli Suomi and coach Pasi Saarinen have signed extensions that cover the 2022–2023 season. Forwards Matias Mäntykivi’s and Miro Nalli’s one-year extensions now run until spring 2024. The option year included in defenseman Karri Aho’s contract has been terminated and replaced with a new 1+1 year contract.

Goaltender Marek Langhamer – Contract extension 2022–2023

Representing Ilves for his first season, goaltender Marek Langhamer, 27, has played 22 games in the Finnish league (Liiga). The team has won 14 of those games and has been left without points in only six games. His save percentage is 90,62 and goals against average 2,62. The Czech goaltender started the season strongly, but was sidelined from the middle of October until the middle of December.

Langhamer played in the AHL, NHL, Czech Extraliga, national team and KHL in 2015–2021 seasons. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2012 NHL draft by the Phoenix Coyotes.

– At times Marek Langhamer’s saves singlehandedly guaranteed our team points in the start of the season. After recovering from his injury he is doing great again. As a goaltender Marek is at the best age. He has impressed with his personality and ability right from the beginning. We are really happy that he wanted to stay at Ilves and we agreed on a contract extension, says sports director Timo Koskela.

Defenseman Simon Johansson – Contract extension 2022–2023

Swedish defenseman Simon Johansson, 22, has scored 8 goals and 20 assists in 53 games for Ilves in his first season in the Liiga. He is the second-highest scoring defenseman in the team and ranks 10th in points among all defensemen in the league.

Johansson has scored 25 points in his last 34 games. The defenseman was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL draft by the Minnesota Wild.

– We followed Simon Johansson’s development in Sweden for a long time and here he has been just as good as we had expected. Simon is a really versatile player, who has impressed in every way with his play and personality. We are aware of his chance to get a NHL contract as well, but by extending our contract we wanted to ensure that he continues to play for Ilves next season if he stays in Europe, says Koskela.

Forward Petri Kontiola (A) – Contract extension 2022–2023

Last season’s top scorer and Liiga player of the season award winner Petri Kontiola, 37, has 32 points (7 goals, 25 assists) in 47 games in his first season at Ilves. The team’s alternate captain ranks third in the team in points and the center’s faceoff win percentage 54,9 is the best in the team.

– In addition to his offensive skills and points Petri Kontiola has brought vital experience, leadership and versatility to our team. As a top player we believe he can mold his game to support the team’s needs and is able to adapt to a more defensive role if needed, says sports director Koskela.

Forward Balázs Sebők – Contract extension 2022–2023

After joining Ilves from KalPa in the summer, center Balázs Sebők, 27, has tallied 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 43 games this season. In his last 24 games the national team forward of Hungary has scored 25 points.

– Balázs Sebők is a very strong skater and understands the way modern centers play. He is involved in the game in all areas of the rink. His occasional absences have at times clearly affected our team’s game. Balázs is a very important player for Ilves and we are really pleased to agree on a contract extension with him, comments Koskela.

Forward Eemeli Suomi (C) – Contract extension 2022–2023

Captaining Ilves for his fourth season forward Eemeli Suomi, 26, has amassed 18 goals and 28 assists in 48 games this season. The Ilves academy product ranks third in the league in points. Suomi has scored 29 points in 21 games this calendar year.

The forward, who was selected to the Finnish national team in the four previous seasons, has risen to the 11th place in the clubs all-time scoring list. Suomi has played 376 regular season games and scored 257 points (96 goals, 161 assists) for Ilves in his seven Liiga seasons.

– Eemeli Suomi is an undisputed star player in the league. Very few players have similar meaning for the whole club like Eemeli has at Ilves. He is a player who has been given the biggest requirements and expectations by the club, but at the same time we are his greatest supporter. There’s no player in the league we would trade him for, says sports director Timo Koskela.

– Eemeli leads our team’s daily culture and standards by his actions. When the team’s captain and best player is ready for work every day, it sets a standard the rest of the team have to respond to. I dare to say that no player in the league trains harder than Eemeli Suomi. His meaning for Ilves is extremely big in terms of practicing and playing and the whole organisation.

Forward Matias Mäntykivi – Contract extension 2023–2024 (one additional year)

20-year-old forward Matias Mäntykivi has made his breakthrough in the Liiga in his first season at Ilves. The center who moved to Ilves from SaiPa has scored 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 46 games.

Mäntykivi was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL draft by the Boston Bruins.

– Matias Mäntykivi has been excellent at Ilves and he has already risen among the best players in the Liiga. Improving his physique in itself already means that his game will develop a lot for the next five years. As a talent he is NHL level and he has things in his game that are impossible to teach. We wanted to make sure that if Matias still plays in Finland in 2023–2024 season, he will stay at Ilves, but getting a NHL contract by then is perfectly realistic, says Koskela.

Forward Miro Nalli – Contract extension 2023–2024 (one additional year)

In his third Liiga season the Ilves academy product, forward Miro Nalli, 23, has played 43 games and scored 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists).

– Miro Nalli has taken and earned his role in our team through his own work. We can count on his contribution in every game and practice. Miro is a versatile and exemplary team player, who has earned the additional year in his contract, notes Koskela.

Defenseman Karri Aho – Contract extension 2022-2023 + option year

Ilves academy product Karri Aho, 19, has played seven Liiga games this season and scored 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 16 Mestis games for KOOVEE and 5 points (5 assists) in two games for the Ilves U20 team. At the turn of the year the defenseman represented Finland at IIHF U18 World Championships that were stopped due to corona cases. Aho gathered two assists in his only game at the tournament.

– We terminated the option year that was included in Karri Aho’s contract and agreed on a new 1+1 year contract in good mutual understanding. His season has been rocky, but as a player he has continued his development and has always risen to the next level by following his own path. Karri is a strong skater, moves the puck well and can play a versatile game. Through the development of his physique he will rise to the next level again and will fight for game time in the next years, says Koskela.

Coach Pasi Saarinen – Contract extension 2022–2023

Pasi Saarinen, 44, joined the Ilves coaching staff as an assistant coach last season and will continue in the role next season as well.

– As a coach who is responsible for the defensemen, Pasi Saarinen has done an excellent job, which has earned him a contract extension. Many defensemen in our team have develop both individually and as team players. The general readiness to battle in our defence has taken steps forward this season, which has been significantly influenced by Pasi Saarinen, comments Koskela.

After publishing the contract extensions today Ilves now have 25 player contracts in total for the 2022–2023 season.

Contract situation for the 2022–2023 season

Goaltenders (2)

Marek Langhamer 2023, Vadim Žerenko 2023

Defensemen (9)

Karri Aho 2023+1, Santeri Airola 2023+1, Otto Heinonen 2024, Veeti Hietaniemi 2024+1, Simon Johansson 2023, Les Lancaster 2023, Leo Lööf 2023, Jarkko Parikka 2025, Tuomas Salmela 2024

Forwards (14)

Nikolai Hakala 2023+1, Joona Ikonen 2024, Petri Kontiola 2023, Joona Korhonen 2023+1, Jakub Kos 2023+1, Panu Mieho 2024, Matias Mäntykivi 2024, Miro Nalli 2024, Jani Nyman 2023+1, Joonas Oden 2023, Eetu Päkkilä 2024, Balázs Sebők 2023, Eemeli Suomi 2023, Santeri Virtanen 2023

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