Montreal Canadiens Interestingly Bring Back Otto Leskinen

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 10: Otto Leskinen #64 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 10: Otto Leskinen #64 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens made an interesting announcement yesterday. They have signed Otto Leskinen to a one-year, two-way contract.

This will be the Finnish defence man’s second stint with the Canadiens organization in his career. He previously played two seasons in North America, mostly with the Laval Rocket, though he did suit up for six NHL games with the Habs in the 2019-20 season.

Leskinen is a 25 year offensive defenceman and his rights were retained by the Canadiens through last season even though he returned to Finland to play. He would end up splitting the season between the KHL and Liiga, Finland’s top league, when a plethora of players got out of their KHL duties due to the war going on in Ukraine.

The 5’11” and 187 pound defender put up decent number for the Rocket, scoring 39 points in 85 games between his two seasons with the team. He will likely play a big role for the Rocket next season, but that blue line is about to get crowded.

Youngsters Kaiden Guhle, Justin Barron, Jordan Harris and Arber Xhekaj will be playing their first full seasons with the Habs organization. Jeff Petry, Joel Edmundson, David Savard, Alexander Romanov, and Chris Wideman are all signed through next season and are sure to be on the NHL roster (if they aren’t traded before then).

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out next season, but with his salary, Leskinen is going to play a lot if he is in the AHL. His one-year deal pays him $750,000 at the NHL level or $300,000 if he is in the minors. That’ll make him one of the highest paid AHL players in the organization next season.

Leskinen did have a great 2021-22 season in Europe. He played for Jokerit in the KHL to begin the year and had 15 points in 35 games. Upon returning to Liiga to play for Tappara, he scored eight points in just ten regular season games and led the postseason in scoring by blue liners with ten points in 15 games en route to a league championship.

The 25 year old looked pretty good in the AHL two seasons ago, and was terrific in Liiga this past season. It will just be interesting to see if the organization thinks he will play a big role at the AHL level, or if they see him as an NHL regular next season.

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