TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned forward Waltteri Merelä to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced.
Merelä, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, has played in 10 games with the Lightning this season, averaging 10:54 in ice time. He made his NHL debut on October 10 against the Nashville Predators.
The 24-year-old played for Tappara of the Finnish Elite League, the top professional ice hockey league in Finland, during the 2022-23 season and posted 15 goals and 33 points in 41 regular season contests. The right-shot winger also averaged a point a game in 14 playoff contests, recording eight goals and 14 points to lead the team for goals and rank tied for second for scoring in helping Tappara to its second-straight Liiga championship. In 2021-22, Merelä notched 21 goals and 44 points in 57 regular season games for Tappara, ranking second on the team in both categories. He led Liiga in 2021-22 for plus/minus (+31) and finished tied for fifth for goals and eighth for scoring.
Prior to joining Tappara, Merelä played parts of three seasons with Pelicans of the Finnish Elite League (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21), amassing 17 goals and 46 points in 114 regular season contests. Merelä also saw action in one game for Finland at the 2023 World Championship, scoring a goal in Finland’s group play matchup against Hungary.