Courtesy of Point Park University

Prospect Almari wins Finnish championship


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Liiga Champions. -- HPK / TWITTER

Penguins defense prospect Niclas Almari and his HPK club won the championship in the top Finnish men's league, Liiga, on Saturday.

Almari, who turns 21 next week, was the Penguins' fifth-round pick in 2016. He shared a picture with his medal and the Kanada-malja trophy following the win:

HPK, the league's fifth seed, defeated regular-season champion Karpat in seven games in the final series. HPK eliminated TPS in five games in the quarterfinal round, and eliminated Tappara in six games in the semifinals.

This is HPK's second championship since the league was formed in 1975. They last won in 2006.

Almari was scoreless with an even plus/minus in 18 playoff games. He recorded one goal and four assists in 42 regular season games:

Almari has played in 107 career Liiga games over the past three seasons, recording eight goals, 10 assists, and a plus-4 rating. He's also played 36 career games in Mestis, the second-tier Finnish league, recording one goal, 10 assists, and a minus-4 rating.

Based on conversations I had with Almari during last summer's development camp, this was almost assuredly Almari's final season in Finland. He remains unsigned and the Penguins retain his signing rights until June 2020, but he'll likely sign his entry-level contract this summer and start next season in Wilkes-Barre.

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