ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Chicago Blackhawks today announced they have agreed to terms with defenseman Joni Tuulola (YOH-nee, TOO-uh-luh-la) on a two-year contract that begins next season and runs through the 2019-20 campaign. He will report to the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.
Tuulola, 22, originally signed a professional tryout (PTO) agreement with the IceHogs on March 23 after completing his fifth consecutive season in the Finnish Elite League, SM-liiga. The blueliner skated in all but one of Vaasan Sport’s 59 games and established career-high marks with seven goals, 23 assists, 30 points and 59 penalty minutes. He paced all Sport skaters in assists and ranked first among team defenseman in both points and penalty minutes during the 2017-18 season.
Prior to signing with Sport last year, the Hämeenlinna, Finland native helped Finland win its second gold medal in three years at the 2016 World Junior Championship. Tuulola tallied one assist while skating to a +5 rating in seven contests during the tournament.
The defensemen originally began his tenure in the Finnish Elite League with a stretch of four straight seasons with HPK Hameenlinna from 2013-16. Tuulola capped that stint by posting a career-best +17 rating and leading HPK to a postseason berth during the 2016-17 campaign, and chipping in one assist and 12 PIMs in 12 playoff games
Overall, Tuulola has combined for 63 points (17g, 63a), 97 PIMs and a +11 plus/minus rating in 199 career games in the Finish Elite League from 2013-18.
He was originally selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round (181st overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Next Home Game: Saturday, March 31 vs. San Jose | 6 p.m.
The IceHogs host Hawaiian Night as they take on the San Jose Barracuda at 6 p.m. at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The event will feature tropical-themed jerseys, live Hawaiian music, a luau with hula dancers, pig roast and orange hibiscus flowers imprinted on the ice. In addition, Hogs alumni Brian Bickell will be on-hand for the festivities. Tickets can be purchased at IceHogs.com, by calling (815) 968-5222 or in-person at the BMO Harris Bank Center Box Office.