A pair of pending free agents have decided to not wait to test NHL free agency and have instead opted to sign overseas. Jokerit of the KHL announced today that they’ve signed defenseman Otto Leskinen and center Kalle Kossila to two-year contracts.
Leskinen signed with Montreal as an undrafted free agent back in 2019 and has spent the majority of his two seasons with them at the AHL level, only getting into six NHL games along the way. However, the 24-year-old had 17 points in just 33 games with Laval which was enough to earn a recall to their reserve squad for the playoffs. The Canadiens will be able to retain his NHL rights with a qualifying offer and considering that Leskinen won’t be UFA-eligible until 2024 (a year after this contract expires), they likely will do so.
As for Kossila, he last saw NHL action back in 2018-19 when he was with Anaheim and he has 19 career NHL contests under his belt. While he hasn’t been able to lock down an NHL job, the 28-year-old has been quite productive in the minors which was enough to earn a two-year deal from Toronto back in 2020 with this season being a one-way deal. While he led the Marlies in scoring this season, he may not have been able to command another one-way deal so he’ll instead try his hand back home with Finland’s lone KHL squad. He was set to be an unrestricted free agent late next month.