Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported this morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs are “on the verge” of signing Petri Kontiola to a one-year deal. The Finnish centre played the last three seasons for Traktor Chlyabinsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, totaling 105 points in 150 games.
The Chicago Blackhawks drafted the 29-year-old (he’ll be 30 by the start of the season) in the seventh round in 2004. He only played 12 games for the ‘Hawks, all in 2007-08, scoring five points. However, he was a pretty good scorer at the AHL level, putting up 130 points in 147 games.
None of this really answers the question about whether or not his scoring can translate into the NHL. He played well for Finland at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, scoring five points in six games while averaging 16 minutes of ice time. According to James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail’s sources, Kontiola has offensive ability and isn’t just suited to a fourth-line role:
Talked to several people about Kontiola in past few days. Not a checker, he's better suited to running a power play etc.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) July 3, 2014
This is a low-risk signing. If it doesn’t work out, Dave Nonis can simply let him go on waivers and Kontiola will be back in the KHL. If he ends up contributing, you get a cheap player who can fill a role; maybe even second-line right wing.
The Leafs’ centre depth chart now consists of Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, Peter Holland and Kontiola. We heard yesterday the Leafs were in the running for free-agent centre David Legwand. If they sign Legwand, suddenly the future of Holland becomes pretty murky. If they don’t, the third-line centre spot will likely be fought between Holland and Kontiola.