Skip to main content

Petri Kontiola

Traktor KHL

The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken to raiding the Finnish national team this off-season.

The Leafs agreed to a one-year deal with playmaking centre Petri Kontiola on Thursday morning, bringing back the former Chicago Blackhawks draft pick (a seventh rounder in 2004) for an audition as a depth centre next season.

Kontiola turns 30 in October and has played only 12 games in the NHL but still received a lot of interest from NHL teams looking to take a flier on a guy who has been productive in the KHL and internationally. He had a very good turn at the Olympics for the Finns, too, which only helped his case and that of teammate Jori Lehtera, who signed with St. Louis.

Story continues below advertisement

Kontiola becomes the second Finn in three days to end up with Toronto after Leo Komarov did the same on July 1. Leafs GM Dave Nonis flew over to Finland prior to free agency to help get the deals done.

"I think he'll be the surprise of the NHL this year," Kontiola's agent Mark Gandler said on Thursday. "Big, strong, smart, skilled. Good skater, good defensively."

It's believed he received a little more than $1-million from the Leafs. The deal doesn't come with a whole lot of risk given Toronto can always place him on waivers and/or loan him back to a European team and get out of the contract.

Kontiola for his part has said publicly that he's anxious for another shot at the NHL and had no intention of playing another year in Europe.

"I have been thinking a lot about it, and I think it's time for me to change something in my life," Kontiola said earlier this week when he left the KHL.

"I want to spend more time with my daughter and be challenged professionally. Several NHL teams implied that if I were released... they would be able to put together an offer. I am turning 30 this year, and I feel as though it is my last chance to make an impact in the NHL.

"It happened largely due to family matters, but it is also due to the fact that this could be my last chance to win the Stanley Cup."

Story continues below advertisement

Toronto obviously has some holes up front after missing out on free agent centres Dave Bolland and Brian Boyle earlier this week, and Kontiola can play either down the middle or on the right wing. It's expected he and Komarov will spend time together on a line after having some success together in international play.

In the limited data we have available from his last stint in the NHL in Chicago, Kontiola did a very nice job controlling play on a line mainly with Robert Lang, but that's six years ago and a very small sample size.

He was also productive in the AHL before heading back to Europe, where he's led Magnitogorsk and Chelyabinsk in scoring.

His strengths are running a power play and as a setup man, not necessarily defensively, so working him in on the Leafs bottom six could give them a little offence there.

How big of a role Kontiola ends up with is going to depend on how good of a training camp he has and whether or not the Leafs add another centre. They remain in talks for free agent David Legwand, but he has a number of suitors and may command upwards of $4-million.

Leafs projected 2014-15 lineup(Estimated $4.9-million remaining in cap space after RFAs signed)

Story continues below advertisement

Van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Kessel
Lupul – Kadri – Santorelli
Komarov – Kontiola – Clarkson
Bodie – Holland – Frattin/Ashton

Phaneuf – Robidas
Gardiner – Franson
Rielly – Polak/Granberg

Bernier
Reimer

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies