The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that they have signed defenceman Teemu Kivihalme to a two-year, two-way contract extension. He will be paid an AAV of $725,000.
Teemu Kivihalme Signs with Maple Leafs
Two-way deal that pays him $725,000 at the NHL level. https://t.co/t0ubrd4NAS
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 18, 2020
The 25-year-old who was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2013 as the 140th overall selection, but he never signed with them. Therefore, after three seasons at Colorado College, he chose to turn pro in Finland and spent two years with Karpat of the SM-liiga. In his second season, he picked up 30 points in 60 games. That got him noticed by several NHL teams including Toronto. They signed him in May of 2019 to an entry-level contract.
Kivihalme registered four goals and 14 assists with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL this season. While with Karpat, he tallied 13 goals and 37 assists in 104 games. In 34 playoffs games he had four goals and five assists. He was on the SM-liiga championship team of 2018.
What This Means Going Forward
For the Maple Leafs to have another defenceman working his way to the NHL roster is an accomplishment. He has impressed enough to be invited to the Toronto training camp to see if he will participate in the play-in series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. If he fails to make the lineup as a Black Ace, he still will be signed for the two years with an opportunity to advance to the NHL.
The Maple Leafs finished 26th in goals allowed last season with a 3.17 goals-against-average. Granted they scored 3.39 goals a game placing them third, but the defence definitely needs to improve.
Kivihalme’s signing is a step in the right direction especially with the uncertainty of the team’s salary cap issue. It is unknown if Cody Ceci ($4.5M) and Tyson Barrie ($2.75M) will be re-signed as they are both unrestricted free agents. The team’s projected cap space for next season is limited with just $4.6 million available.
The signing of Kivihalme can be viewed as an insurance policy for the team.