It looks like Leo Komarov isn’t the only KHL playing Finn to join the Toronto Maple Leafs this week. Looking to bolster their forward depth, the blue and white have signed Petri Kontiola to a one year contract.
Who The F*** Is Petri Kontiola?
Kontiola was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 7th round of the 2004 Entry Draft. While he was seen as a long shot to even attempt to cross the pond, he did manage to get twelve games in with Chicago in his first NHL tour of duty, earning himself five assists in 2007/08. This went with a stellar rookie year in Rockford, where he put up 68 points in 66 games as a 24 year old. He was eventually traded to the Anaheim Ducks, and spent 20 more games in the AHL before heading to Russia.
Over the past few years, Kontiola has blossomed into the KHL’s best playmakers. Starting off with 21 points in 54 games, he’s been a 0.7+ point per game forward in his last three seasons. This year, he lead Chelyabinsk Traktor with 37 points, ahead of Andrei Kostitsyn and at a better rate of production than Evgeny Kuznetsov. He also lead the team in scoring in the 12/13 playoffs and was third in scoring in the two regular seasons prior.
Kontiola was also on Finland’s 2014 Olympic Team, which actually made him teammates with Komarov. He was the more productive one of the two, however, scoring 5 points in 6 games while playing about 16 minutes per game.
What Can He Do For Toronto?
It really depends on how they plan to use him. Kontiola is an offensively driven, strong footed playmaker who tends to lean towards playing centre. In theory, you’d think that this means that the Leafs will use him in the 3 slot and bump Peter Holland down a line, but with an offer apparently being given to David Legwand, perhaps they plan on using him on the wing.
Or, just maybe, they’re only acquiring him to deal with the Toronto media. He’s pretty good at that.
If the cap number is good on this one (terms haven’t yet been disclosed), this is a good move. Low-risk, high-reward opportunities have a history of working well for the Leafs in the cap era (unless you’re Tim Connolly), so it’ll be interesting to see what he does here.