Friday: Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star reports that the contract terms are as follows:
- Engvall: $925K AAV
- Lindgren: $776K AAV
- Lindholm: $925K AAV
- Ozhiganov: $925K AAV
Thursday: The Toronto Maple Leafs were busy today, inking four international players to entry-level contracts. Jesper Lindgren has signed a three-year contract and Pierre Engvall inks a two-year deal, while Par Lindholm and Igor Ozhiganov officially sign their one-year contracts. All four should come as no surprise as Lindgren and Engvall had already suited up for the Marlies while Lindholm and Ozhiganov had long been rumored to be signing with Toronto.
Lindgren and Engvall were both selected in the later rounds by the Maple Leafs, the former going 95th overall in 2015 and the latter going 188th in 2014. Engvall has been an impressive addition to the Toronto Marlies’ playoff run, scoring eight points in nine games down the stretch and adding seven more in the postseason. The big, physical forward has learned to use his frame to protect the puck on the way to the net, and recorded 20 points in 31 games for HV71 in his first turn in the SHL. Lindgren on the other hand is a right-handed puck-moving defenseman who played in Finland this year, recording eight points in 43 games. While that point total doesn’t sound promising he didn’t log big minutes for the team and should see an improved offensive output in North America.
Lindholm, 26, decided on the Maple Leafs last month after several teams had pursued him. Suiting up for Sweden at the Olympics and spending his fourth season in the SHL, the versatile forward could be the answer to Toronto’s fourth-line center next season. After scoring 47 points in 49 games in the SHL, he will bring more polish and experience to the role than the other internal candidates, as long as he can transition to the North American game without problem. With Tyler Bozak, Dominic Moore and Tomas Plekanec all headed towards unrestricted free agency, the Maple Leafs have a distinct lack of depth down the middle.
Ozhiganov perhaps is the crown jewel of the bunch, and one that has been recruited for some time by the Maple Leafs. Similar to the way the team pursued Nikita Zaitsev in recent years, Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello personally traveled to Russia to meet with Ozhiganov and sell him on the benefits of joining Toronto. Now that the 25-year old defenseman has officially signed, speculation will start over whether he’s an answer on the NHL club right from the beginning of the season. With Roman Polak heading to the open market, and Connor Carrick still not able to secure a full-time role on Toronto’s right side, Ozhiganov could potentially slide into the bottom pairing right away. That’s if new GM Kyle Dubas doesn’t go out and acquire some defensive help though, something the team drastically needs.
All of these signings were in place before Dubas took over, but continues what has been a mining of European talent over the last few years by the Maple Leafs. The team also signed Miro Aaltonen, Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen last summer, and have invested draft picks in several junior players in Russia over the last few years. As the Maple Leafs try to fill out the ranks around their young stars, the international market seems like their go-to scouting destination these days.