For the month of August, Editor In Leaf will take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, previewing what could happen in the 2014-15 NHL season. Next up is Petri Kontiola, returning to the NHL after a five-year absence.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Petri Kontiola to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million, I’d guess the first word out of many a Leafs fan was: “Who?”
For those who didn’t know of him, had they seen this video, they would at least know who he is.
Kontiola was actually drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks back in the 2004 NHL Draft (196th overall). He played four more years in his native Finland before making his NHL debut. He amassed five assists in 12 games in the 2007-08 season, spending the rest of the season with the Blackhawks AHL affiliate in Rockford. The next season he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks, although he never played a game for them.
After the 2008-09 season, Kontiola left the NHL to go play in the KHL. In five seasons (two teams), Kontiola totaled 63 goals and 112 assists for 175 points in 258 games. He also had one goal and four assists for five points in six games with Finland at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Now he is coming back to the NHL to see if he can make a difference with the Maple Leafs.
Kontiola had this to say about returning to the NHL:
“I have been thinking a lot about it, and I think it’s time for me to change something in my life… 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.”
That Stanley Cup won’t be coming this season, but who knows, if Kontiola can play like he did in the KHL and Olympics, he could be a valuable piece in the Leafs lineup.
Big Question: What can be expected from him?
The signing of Kontiola was relatively low-risk for the Maple Leafs so expectations shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If he produces points or is great defensively, that’s awesome. If it doesn’t work out, his contract is over at the end of the season.