The Leafs locked up their fourth-round pick from the 2019 draft over the weekend when Nick Abruzzese officially turned pro by signing a two-year entry level contract and on Wednesday, the team announced that they had also signed 2019 third-rounder Mikko Kokkonen to a three-year ELC. Kokkonen’s deal carries an AAV of $846,666.
We’ve signed defenceman Mikko Kokkonen to a three-year entry-level contract beginning in the 2022-23 season. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 30, 2022
Kokkonen spent the 2021-22 Liiga season playing for the Lahti Pelicans organization after playing parts of five seasons with Jukurit’s Liiga club. He has also represented Finland twice at the World Junior Championships and was named one of the top three players for the 2021 bronze medal-winning squad.
Known as a defense-first player, Kokkonen plays a composed and quiet game on the back end. He moves the puck efficiently but hasn’t been much of an offensive driver at the Finnish pro level, placing priority on his defensive responsibilities. Kokkonen defends the rush well but he excels more in defensive zone coverage, boxing out in front of the net and shutting down opposing cycles.
Kokkonen did, however, show off some offensive upside late last season when he joined the Marlies on an ATO after Jukurit’s season ended. After registering 10 points in 50 Liiga contests, he racked up a goal and six assists in just 11 AHL games. It will be interesting to see if that was just a flash in the pan or if it was the result of the Marlies’ coaching staff seeing him as more than just a shutdown defender and giving him the freedom to push for offense.
Mikko Kokkonen opens the scoring with his first AHL goal for the Toronto Marlies. #Leafs #Marlies pic.twitter.com/cJkwPF …
Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation