The Toronto Maple Leafs have just added a huge piece to their blue line.
According to an official announcement from the Maple Leafs organization, the team has signed former Kontinental Hockey League defenseman Mikko Lehtonen to a one year contract. The contract will be a one year entry level deal for Lehtonen, which means that the Maple Leafs have just acquired a stud defenseman for very little money against the salary cap.
So just how good is Lehtonen? Although it remains to be seen how his skills will translate to the National Hockey League there is no question that he was a dominant force during his first and only season in the Kontinental Hockey League. The Finnish blue liner recorded 17 goals and 32 assists for 49 points over 60 games, and that was good enough to lead all defensemen in the KHL in scoring. Additionally he finished the season with a plus minus rating of +26 so its not like he was a defensive liability when putting up those points either.
Although Lehtonen breakout season in the KHL is no doubt why there were so many NHL teams reportedly in the mix for his services, the Leafs in fact had not even been one of the team's mentioned in rumors of his coming to North America, it was his play at the International Ice Hockey Federation's international tournaments that truly put him on the radar for several NHL teams.
This is a huge acquisition for the Leafs and it will be interesting to see what happens with Lehtonen's career in the NHL beyond this one year entry level contract.