The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that they’ve inked Teemu Kivihalme to a two-way, two-year deal, with an AAV of $725,000.
Teemu Kivihalme was a European free agent signing for the Leafs last season. The 25-year-old was originally picked 140th overall by the Nashville Predators in 2013.
After four solid seasons with Colorado College of the NCAA, Kivihalme continued to improve as he joined Karpat of SM-Liiga.
With Karpat, Kivihalme’s defensive prowess shined, along with his growing offensive presence from the blueline. He helped Karpat during their run to become champions in 2017-18, and they placed 2nd in 2018-19.
With the Toronto Marlies, the Finnish-American defenseman showed that he is a very dependable defenseman, offensively and defensively.
Kivihalme creates most of his offense from or behind the blueline. He’s a great puck-moving defenseman. He’ll create chances by using his slapshot and the occasional wrister to rebound off the goalie. He’ll also throw in the occasional rush here and there.
He does a fairly good job of staying on his man defensively, closing the gap effectively and pressuring.
Kivihalme pretty much does everything you want to see from someone poised to be a depth defenseman.
The Contract and What’s Next
Although some of the details haven’t been released, we know that the contract is a two-way, two-year deal with a $725,000 AAV. The Leafs have faith that he could develop into an NHLer, and this two-year deal will give him an opportunity to develop in the AHL and show the team that he’s NHL material.
Kivihalme is solid in pretty much every aspect of the game. However, the Leafs are likely looking for him to develop more on both ends of the ice, taking his game up a notch. He had success in his first North American professional season, depending on how next season goes, it’s possible he just needed to get more used to the AHL game.
I think Kivihalme projects to be a very solid 7th defenseman in the NHL, potentially a bottom-pairing defenseman depending on how he develops.
Next season though, he’ll likely spend the majority of the season with the Toronto Marlies again.
For now, however, he’s with the team as they gear up for their return to play.
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Featured Image via @TorontoMarlies on Twitter