The Montreal Canadiens have agreed to terms with Otto Leskinen on a two-year entry-level contract. The undrafted defenseman has spent the last several years playing in Finland’s Liiga, but did attend development camp with the Canadiens in 2018.
Leskinen, 22, broke out this season with 31 points in 57 games, more than he had scored in his previous 141 contests at the highest level in Finland. That was obviously enough to convince the Canadiens that he has NHL potential, something they’re still desperate to find on the back end. The Canadiens have done well to create a stable blue line with some relatively unheralded names like Jeff Petry, Brett Kulak and Mike Reilly, but still need to add depth to the position as they try to climb back into the playoffs. Given the restricted free agent status of several players, Montreal actually only has four defensemen under contract with legitimate NHL experience (not counting Karl Alzner, who was banished to the minor leagues this season).
Another left-handed option that can move the puck effectively, Leskinen will likely compete for an NHL spot right away come training camp. That spot is obviously not guaranteed, but with his experience at the professional level in Finland there’s reason to believe he could be at least a part-time contributor right away. It’s not clear if his contract includes a European Assignment Clause that would stop the team from sending him to the minor leagues.