When we heard that the Toronto Maple Leafs were looking for Finnish forwards who spent last season in the Kontinental Hockey League, everyone assumed that Leo Komarov was the target. Technically, they weren’t wrong, as he signed a four year deal in July. But as it turns out, he wasn’t the only guy that the Leafs had set their sights on, signing Petri Kontiola to a one year, one way, make it or break it deal. But who is this mystery man? What can you expect from him?
As I mentioned, Kontiola spent last year playing with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL. First off, the city name starts with “Chel”, so you know he has to be video-game levels of good. Then you look at his actual numbers, and there might be something to that. Kontiola has been in the top three in team scoring for four consecutive KHL seasons; leading his team last year, leading them in the playoffs in 2012/13, and leading Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2010/11.
Last year specifically, Kontiola notched 15 goals and added 22 assists in 53 games. Chelyabinsk missed the playoffs, but that wasn’t his only non-regular season hockey. Kontiola had 4 points in 5 games for Finland during the European Hockey Tour, 5 points in 6 games during the Olympics (tied for 11th in the tournament and third on Team Finland!), and 9 points in 10 games at the World Championships (second on Finland, and again tied for 11th overall). In the end, his combined 18 points in major international tournaments put him 5th in the world last year.
Something that I (and others) have noticed during the preseason is that his acceleration may be a detriment. Sure, KHL and international hockey has ice, but while that means you need to be able to skate more, it also hides acceleration flaws better due to having more room before you hit the boards. The first step means a lot in the NHL, and I don’t think he has enough of one to keep up on the top six.
However, if the Leafs are serious about having four hockey-playing lines, he’ll likely be battling Peter Holland for a centre spot on either the third or fourth line. Alternatively, he could also end up on the wing.
None. I don’t see him getting into a position where he racks up high numbers in any statistic, even if he’s of positive benefit to the Leafs. Maybe if you’re in a big league and need a token Leafs guy. Simply, you have better options, that you can find out about on our sister website, DailyFaceoff.com!
Kontiola gives us what I presume is his self-scouting report
A highlight pack!