2010-11: Saku Maenalanen played one game for Karpat’s U18 team in Oulu and was one of the top scorer’s for neighboring Laser HT’s U18 team in the Finnish second division. He had no points and 2 penalty minutes in his one game with Karpat. Maenalanen played 26 games for Laser HT and scored 27 goals with 38 assists and 20 penalty minutes. Laser HT won the second division championship.
2011-12: Maenalanen was the leading scorer for Karpat’s U18 team. He scored 15 goals with a team-high 36 assists and 76 penalty minutes in 44 games. In nine playoff games he scored 7 goals with 3 assists and had 2 penalty minutes.
2012-13: Maenalanen was the second-leading scorer in Finnish A juniors and represented Finland in U20 and U18 international play. He scored 23 goals and led Finland’s A junior league with 35 assists in 45 games and was +19 with 43 penalty minutes. Maenalanen scored 5 goals with 2 assists and was +1 with 18 penalty minutes in five playoff games. He skated in 10 games for the Finnish U20 and U18 teams and scored 4 goals with 1 assist. Maenalanen was ranked 130th amongst European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings and was selected by Nashville in the fifth round (125th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.
2013-14: Maenalanen split the season between Liiga champion Karpat Oulu and Mestis club Jokipojat and had a memorable season at the junior level — both with the Finland U20 team and the Karpat A junior team. In 25 regular season Liiga games he scored 4 goals with 3 assists and was +6 with no penalty minutes. He did not skate in any Kanada Cup playoff games. Maenalanen scored 9 goals with 6 assists and was +9 with 4 penalty minutes in 15 games for Jokipojat. He was the leading goal scorer amongst all skaters at the 2014 World Junior championship; tallying 7 goals with 4 assists and finishing +9 in seven games as Finland won the gold medal. In five regular season games with the Karpat U20 team he scored 3 goals with 3 assists and was minus-2 with 2 penalty minutes. In 12 playoff games he scored 4 goals with 4 assists and was minus-1 with 10 penalty minutes.
2014-15: Maenalanen struggled to find ice time with Karpat Oulu as the veteran club finished first in the regular season and won its second straight Kanada Cup. Loaned briefly to Pelicans Lahti at the beginning of the year, he also spent time with Hokki in Mestis and skated for the Karpat junior team. Maenalanen scored 1 power play goal with no assists nor penalties and was -4, averaging 11:26 minutes of ice time in eight games for Pelicans. He scored 4 goals with 1 assist and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes, averaging 10:27 minutes of ice time, in 20 regular season games for Karpat. Playing in 7 of 14 playoff games, he averaged 12:10 minutes of ice time and had an even plus/minus with 1 assist and no penalties. Maenalanen played 17 games for Hokki, scoring 5 goals with 8 assists and finishing +3 with 6 penalty minutes. He scored 2 goals with 6 assists and was -4 with 2 penalty minutes in six games with the Karpat U20 team.
Maenalanen uses his size to play a strong puck possession game but isn't overly physical despite that size. He blends his strong board and possession game with a creative and offensively impressive set of skills. His skating is a plus attribute while his agility and top speed are good. A consistent scorer in junior hockey and at the minor pro level in Finland, he has been mostly in a lower line level at the Liiga level thus far and has yet to produce at the same rate.
Maenalanen has yet to sign an entry-level contract with Nashville and was not at the team's development camp this past summer. With the change in the CBA rules in 2014 the Predators retain his rights but at this time Maenalanen appears to be fairly low on their depth chart. In the near term he will try and see an increased role for two-time defending Liiga champion Karpat in Finland in 2015-16. With regards to his NHL prospects, he projects to being a middle line two-way winger capable of contributing supplementary scoring to his team. Like former Karpat teammates Joonas Kemmpainen (Boston) and Joonas Donskoi (San Jose), who were signed as unrestricted free agents following the 2014-15 season, Maenalanen may need a few more seasons in Finland before the NHL comes calling.