The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Monday morning they signed free-agent defenceman Mikko Lehtonen to a one-year deal entry-level deal. The value has not been disclosed but the contract does not include any performance bonuses.
Welcome to Leafs Nation, Mikko!
The Maple Leafs have signed defenceman Mikko Lehtonen to a one-year entry level contract. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 4, 2020
Toronto Signs Mikko Lehtonen
The KHL’s hottest free-agent has a new home. Last Friday, Lehtonen had his contracted terminated with Jokerit in Russia’s KHL. In 60 games this season, Lehtonen recorded 49 points (17 goals and 32 assists) leading all defenceman in points and goals. In six playoff games, before the KHL was cancelled, he had four points (one goal and three assists). During the season, he was able to represent Jokerit at the 2020 KHL All-Star Game. In addition, Lehtonen was the KHL Defenceman of the month for three consecutive months from November to January.
On the international stage, Lehtonen has represented Finland at multiple events, including the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. During the 2019 World Championships, he won a gold medal. He also skated with Finland at the 2018 Olympics and 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships, where captured a gold medal.
This is a massive get for the Maple Leafs. It feels like Toronto came out of nowhere to get this smooth-skating puck-moving defenceman. He has a very hard and accurate shot that can get through traffic in front of the net. His instincts allow him to jump into high-danger scoring areas when his team is on the rush. Not to mention he can play either the right or left side. This helps the Maple Leafs next season. Lehtonen had been linked to the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, and Los Angeles Kings. With Tyson Barrie most likely leaving via free agency, Lehtonen is a cheap addition to upgrade their defence.
You have to give credit to general manager Kyle Dubas for signing two free-agents from the KHL this season. Frist Alexander Barabanov and now Lehtonen. Lehtonen wanted to join a playoff team that can win now. Not to mention the Maple Leafs have a good young nucleus.
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