The Edmonton Oilers dipped into the European talent pool earlier this off-season when they signed F Joakim Nygard out of Sweden. Ken Holland, who had tons of success signing and drafting Euros in Detroit, apparently isn’t done looking for hidden talent overseas.
According to a report from Rickard Berger, the Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks are two of the teams pursuing Finnish defender Kristian Nakyva.
Nakyva, 28, is a native of Helsinki and has never played in the NHL. In fact, he’s only played in 69 games in North America, all coming in 2015-16. He signed as a free agent with the Nashville Predators in the summer of 2015, and spent the season in the AHL with their affiliate in Milwaukee.
With the Admirals, Nakyva registered a single goal and nine assists for ten points. He returned to Europe that summer, and has been playing in the SHL ever since.
Nakyva suited up for Orebro HK in 2018-19, playing in 51 games for the outfit and scoring 27 points (6-21-27). He appeared in two playoff games for the team, going pointless, and also suited up for Finland’s National Team in two games. He went pointless for them as well.
The veteran Finn is described as having “great skating ability” and passing skills, which fits with the up-tempo game the club wants to play under Holland new coach Dave Tippett. Nakyva’s shot and ability on the powerplay are two other strengths of his, which fits the needs of the Oilers nicely.
Should Nakyva sign with Edmonton, the left-shot defender could fight for the seventh defender spot on the depth chart. The club isn’t likely to re-sign Kevin Gravel or Alex Petrovic, and will need a cheap option at the end of the depth chart. If not, Nakyva could start his season in Bakersfield, playing a top-four role for what should be a load Condors squad.
More on this rumor as it develops.