Colorado College rising junior defenseman Teemu Kivihalme has officially withdrawn from school, giving up his final year of collegiate eligibility to become an NHL free agent this summer, according to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:
Teemu Kivihalme is leaving Colorado College. NSH draft pick gave 30-day letter of notice, so he's a UFA as of July 1. Skilled D-man.— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) June 15, 2017
Kivihalme was a fifth round selection of the Nashville Predators in the 2013 NHL Draft, as a junior in high school. He then spent his senior year of high school playing for the Fargo Force in the USHL, followed by three seasons at Colorado College. Because he is now four years removed from being drafted in the NHL, Kivihalme is eligible to become an NHL free agent if he withdraws from school.
It was tough to judge Kivihalme at Colorado College due to a lack of supporting cast. The Tigers finished in last place in conference play in all three seasons he was in Colorado Springs. Kivihalme was frequently good in a situation that demanded he be exceptional. In 107 career games played, he finished with a scoring line of 10-26-36 and an atrocious-looking +/- earned by playing lots of minutes against top competition.
Listed at 6-0 170 lbs., Kivihalme is a smaller defenseman that relies on his excellent skating and agility to be an offensive-minded puck-moving defenseman.
Kivihalme joins Jimmy Vesey in not signing with the Predators in order to become a free agent, though this one likely stings way less for Nashville fans. Kivihalme will likely at least start his career as a depth add for whichever organization he joins and will have to work his way through the minor leagues before he is ready to play at the NHL level.