The Canadiens were evidently pleased with what they saw from Otto Leskinen last summer at development camp as they announced on Tuesday that they have signed the undrafted free agent to a two-year, entry-level contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Leskinen spent the past four seasons with KalPa Kuopio of the Finnish SM-liiga and had a breakout year offensively in 2018-19. After putting up a combined 23 points in the previous two seasons, the 22-year-old had eight goals and 23 assists in 57 games, leading the team in points by a defenceman in the process.
As a left-handed shot, Leskinen’s addition gives the Habs some much-needed depth on that side. While Victor Mete and RFA Brett Kulak are likely to be on the roster next season, there are plenty of question marks behind them and it’s possible that a strong showing in training camp could put him in the mix for a roster spot as his mobility and puck-moving skills are relatively strong. It’s worth noting, however, that he had another year on his contract in Finland so it wouldn’t be surprising if the deal contains a European Assignment Clause for next season.
The signing also further calls into question the situations for Scott Walford and Jarret Tyszka. The lefty blueliners were both CHL draftees in 2017 which means they have until June 1st to sign but with Leskinen now in the system, do they have room to sign them? They have a few more weeks to make that decision.