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Lehtonen signs one-year contract with Maple Leafs

Led KHL defensemen with 49 points in 60 games @NHLdotcom

Mikko Lehtonen signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

The 26-year-old defenseman scored 49 points (17 goals, 32 assists) in 60 games with Jokerit in the Kontinental Hockey League this season. He led KHL defensemen in goals, assists and points, and was named to the 2020 KHL All-Star Game.

"I think the [Maple] Leafs are a really good organization, a traditional organization," Lehtonen said. "I think my game fits pretty well with Toronto because they want to skate well. I think those are my strengths and I can bring those too."

Tweet from @Jokerit_EN: #Jokerit and Mikko Lehtonen have mutually agreed to terminate the player���s contract. We all thank Mikko for a great year in Helsinki and wish him all the best in the NHL! #KHL

Jokerit and Lehtonen mutually agreed to terminate his contract Friday and allow him to play in the NHL.

"He has taken great leaps in recent years and was a really important piece for us last season," Jokerit general manager Jari Kurri said. "We are grateful to have enjoyed his performances at the Jokers for a year and wish him luck on a new challenge in the NHL where he has every chance to become an important player on his team."

Lehtonen played for Finland in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, and scored seven points (one goal, six assists) in 10 games to help Finland win the 2019 IIHF World Championship, where was named to the tournament all-star team.

"Definitely one of the best defensemen in the KHL throughout the season, if not the best," Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said. "For us, I think you want to really work towards his strengths and what he does best and fit that into our program. I agree with Mikko 100 percent why it's a fit for us and him, it is the way that he plays and the way that we want to play, his ability to be a two-way defenseman."

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