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LEHTONEN HEADED TO NORTH AMERICA AFTER HE AND JOKERIT MUTUALLY AGREE TO TERMINATE HIS KHL DEAL

As we approach the month of December and the expected start of NHL training camps, the Leafs will have several new faces arriving in Toronto over the coming weeks, including stud KHL blueliner Mikko Lehtonen.

News coming out of Helsinki has Lehtonen and his KHL squad [Jokerit] coming to an agreement to mutually terminate his contract, effectively ending his KHL season 17 points in 17 games (8 goals, 9 assists).

The soon-to-be 27-year-old will set sail for North America in the coming days, en route to Toronto to join the team as members from all over begin to trickle in. It is expected that Lehtonen will self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival in Toronto and then begin to take part in workouts with the team ahead of the start of training camp.

Where in the lineup Lehtonen projects to start the season is unknown at this time, though it seems like all but a foregone conclusion that it will be somewhere in the Leafs' top six, given the resume he brings with him. It would not be surprising to see Lehtonen begin the season on the left side of the Leafs' bottom pair, though it is not out of the question to see him move to the right side and into a top four role after he gets his feet wet in North America. The Buds' blueline could roll out like this, which would line up with what Leafs GM Kyle Dubas had mentioned during the off-season, regarding Dermott playing on the right side:

Rielly/Brodie Muzzin/Holl Lehtonen/Dermott Bogosian



Though this is the most likely of scenarios, the Leafs finally have enough quality depth at the position to be able to put their rear guard pairings into the blender and have a few different looks that could pose problems for the opposition.

The good news is that we don't have long to wait to see what Sheldon Keefe and company have in store.

MIKE ARMENTI
NOVEMBER 20, 2020  (9H41)
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