Waltteri Merelä is a 25-year-old rookie looking to get some preseason action in for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was signed back in June as a free agent to a one-year, two-way contract and could see some good action for the Lightning this season.
Merelä is a former player in the Finnish Elite League. During his time in Finland, he had six 25+ point seasons in ten years and was a common factor for being a threat in the offensive zone. This threat from Merelä could come from both his shots at the net and his passes.
His best season was during 2018-19 when he had 54 points. Out of all of those points, 32 were assists leading to having an assist per game average. His touch and control with the puck are very clean and it elevates his play-making to new heights.
Merelä has also had stints with the Finnish National team for some events throughout the past two seasons.
Due to his new contract, a pretty likely location for him will be on the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. They are coming off a 35-26-7-4 season which showed lots of success. Their season came to an end when the Rochester Americans knocked them out in the Calder Cup division semifinals. Their first game of the 2023-24 season will be on October 5th in a revenge matchup with the Americans. The puck drop for the game is at 7:05 p.m. E.T.
It may be a good spot at first for Merelä, but if there are troubles throughout Tampa Bay’s 2023-24 season, he could be a sufficient option at right wing for them.
This high rate of offensive production should garner some attention from Tampa Bay’s front office. Although nothing is guaranteed and the Lightning were relatively active in the free-agent market, Merelä is a name to watch for the Bolts this preseason.
Merelä will make his preseason debut Wednesday night when the Lightning take on the Nashville Predators.