The Blackhawks selected center Antti Saarela of Ilves in Finland’s top division, Liiga, with the No. 123rd overall pick in the fourth round of the 2019 NHL draft Saturday in Vancouver.
Chicago received the pick from the Bruins for Tommy Wingels in a February 2018 trade. The conditional pick was initially a fifth rounder, but was elevated to a fourth rounder when Boston advanced to the second round of the 2018 playoffs.
Saarela, who will turn 18 years old on June 27, scored 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 21 games for Lukko’s under-20 team and 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 24 Liiga games. The 6-foot, 190-pound center also had a goal and three points for Finland at the under-18 World Championship. Antti Saarela is the younger brother of Hurricanes prospect Aleksi Saarela.
Antti Sarela is the No. 24th-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting and No. 71 by The Athletic’s Corey Pronman, who cited the winger’s ability to play well against men in Liiga and showcase his skating and speed.
Chicago picks Antti Saarela 123rd overall. I’m not the biggest fan, but solid value in the fourth round. Good speed, solid puck skills, can finish. Hockey sense is a question mark for me. Projects as a winger rather than center. pic.twitter.com/EFRGfRLu4B
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) June 22, 2019
Antti Saarela to Chicago Blackhawks with the 123rd overall pick. A strong skater with versatility and competitiveness, can play both center and wing. Here’s a scouting report from our final rankings. #Blackhawks #2019NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/3V7v5wjJij
— Finnish Jr Hockey (@FINjrhockey) June 22, 2019
Saarela is only the second No. 123rd pick in Blackhawks history along with Czech winger Karel Hromes (2004). The Blackhawks selected Czech winger Michal Teply earlier in the fourth round with the No. 105 pick.
Saarela will play next season for Ilves in Liiga.