Canes' Osala says he's set for KHL

Prospect had 13 goals for Checkers this season

Staff writerMay 26, 2011 

There's one Carolina Hurricanes prospect who definitely won't be playing in the NHL next season.

Oskar Osala, a power forward who played this past season for the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL, confirmed Wednesday via Twitter that he would be playing for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of the KHL in Russia next season. The 6-4, 225-pounder had 13 goals and 42 points in 59 games for the Checkers this season while piling up 139 penalty minutes.

"I'm excited to move on but hope to be back one day," Osala tweeted.

Canes general manager Jim Rutherford isn't convinced that will happen. Last week, he was discussing Osala and the persistent rumor he was headed to the KHL and said, "If he wants to play in the NHL, I don't think that would be a good choice for him."

Rutherford said Osala, a native of Vaasa, Finland, had denied the rumor to the Hurricanes' management when questioned about it.

"I don't think it would be a good choice for him because we're calling these players up and if you're capable, there will be a spot here," Rutherford said last week. "He's a big guy. He needs to improve his foot speed. If he can get a half-step (faster), he's a guy who might have a chance to play here."

Osala came to the Canes as part of the March 2010 trade with the Washington Capitals that sent defenseman Joe Corvo to the Caps. He won the 2009 Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears but helped the Checkers oust the Bears in this year's playoffs.

chip.alexander@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8945

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