On Friday, May 13th, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced the signings of their top two Finnish prospects.
Forward Roni Hirvonen and defenseman Topi Niemelä both signed three-year entry-level deals with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The average annual value (AAV) for both deals is worth $856,666.
Both prospects had a decent 2021-22 season, and both showed improvement in their games. Hirvonen and Niemela will spend the 2022-23 season on loan to the respected Liiga teams in Finland. (stats hockeyreference.com).
20-year-old Hirvonen recorded nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 46 games for HIFK of the Finnish Elite League (Liiga) this season. He also recorded six points (3G, 3A) in five playoff games. Hirvonen has compiled 20 goals and 43 assists for 63 points in 152 career Liiga games split between HIFK and Ässät.
Topi Niemela recorded ten goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 48 games for Kärpät of the Finnish Elite League. He led all Kärpät defencemen in goals and points this season. The 20-year-old defenseman also recorded one assist in six playoff games for Kärpät this year. Niemela has recorded 11 goals and 32 assists for 43 points in 106 career Liiga games.
Toronto Maple Leafs 2023 Free Agents Eligible for Contract Extensions
July 13th, 2022, is the first day of NHL free agency. It is also the day that players who become free agents in 2023 can sign contract extensions. The Toronto Maple Leafs have six eligible players that fall into this category.
Those six players are Michael Bunting, Alex Kerfoot, David Kämpf, Wayne Simmonds, Justin Holl, and Erik Källgren. Due to the salary cap, it is unlikely that all of these players will receive an extension. Here is a look at how each one of these players did during the 2021-22 season.
Bunting could not have asked for a better first season in Toronto. The 26-year-old recorded 23 goals and 40 assists for 63 points in 79 games. He finished first overall among rookies in points. Bunting finished second in both goals scored and assists by a rookie. He is a nominee for the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year.
Bunting is currently on a 2-year-deal with an AAV of $900,000. He has earned a contract extension, but the question is, how much of an increase will he get?
It took a while, but Kerfoot finally had the type of season Toronto was hoping to see back in 2019 when they traded for him. One could argue that his first two seasons in Toronto were shortened seasons, but his numbers were still below expectations.
With the Colorado Avalanche, Kerfoot recorded 43 points in his first season. He followed that up with a 42 points season. Then he got traded to Toronto, and his point totals dropped. In his first season as a Maple Leaf, Kerfoot only recorded 28 points. Then last season, he only managed to record 23 points. His 51 points this season were a nice improvement.
Kerfoot makes $3.5 million on his current contract, so although eligible for an extension, Toronto might not have enough cap space to keep Kerfoot long-term.
David Kämpf saw a nice increase in his point production this season. He recorded 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points in 82 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs would be wise to try and sign him to an extension now in case his stats improve even more next season. Kämpf is making $1.5 million on his current contract. An extension could see his cap hit double to around $3 million.
Seeing as how Simmonds already has a limited role on this Maple Leafs team, he likely won’t receive a contract extension. The 2022-23 season could be his last as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
General manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe seem to like Holl more than fans do. Holl already makes $2 million a season, and depending on his asking price, it is unlikely that Toronto will sign him to an extension. With prospects like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren earning more playing time, Holl is likely the odd man out.
Källgren wasn’t fantastic, but he was decent in his 14 NHL games. He finished the season with an 8-4-1 record for the Maple Leafs and a 15-8-1 record for the Toronto Marlies.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, he had a .888 SV% and 3.31 GAA. With the Marlies, he had a .904 SV% and 3.02 GAA. Källgren is only making $750,000 at the NHL level, so it is easy to see him getting an extension.