TRADE: #CBJ have acquired defenseman Mikko Lehtonen from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goaltender Veini Vehvilainen.
— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) March 12, 2021
Defenceman Mikko Lehtonen Traded from Maple Leafs
As a rookie, this is Lehtonen’s first season in the NHL. He went undrafted but the Maple Leafs took a chance on him. He’s played nine games so far this season, and has three assists. He averages bottom pairing minutes at only about 12 minutes of ice time per game. His Corsi For is a 48.1%, with a relative Corsi of -3.4. In the KHL this season, he played 17 games and had 17 points – nine goals and eight assists.
Veini Vehvilainen has only played one game for the Blue Jackets, and it was in relief. He made three saves on four shots, and let in one goal. While he has played very little in the NHL, he’s been playing in the Finnish league. Through 13 games, he has a 3-7-3 record, a 3.18 goals against average, and a save percentage of .896. While these numbers are not ideal, some more time in the minors should help.
The Maple Leafs are in desperate need of goalie prospects due to injuries. With Vehvilainen coming in, they will likely have him develop in the minor leagues until he is ready to perform. With Frederik Andersen trending downhill, the Leafs need strong goalie prospects. However, losing Lehtonen is a huge risk. Their defence is already relatively shallow, and Lehtonen was one of the highest rated prospects out of the KHL. As for the Blue Jackets, defence is their specialty under coach John Tortorella. While their defence is extremely deep, having a terrific prospect never hurts. With two strong goalies in Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus is set on goalies. This trade is beneficial for both teams, but overall, it seems Columbus wins.