MARCH 12, 2021
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have acquired defenseman Mikko Lehtonen from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goaltender Veini Vehvilainen, club General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. Lehtonen will join the club’s taxi squad after obtaining a work visa and clearing quarantine.
Lehtonen, 27, who was signed by the Maple Leafs to a one-year, entry level contract on May 4, 2020, made his NHL debut with the club this season and collected three assists with four penalty minutes and a +1 plus/minus rating in nine games. He skated in his first NHL game on January 18 vs. Winnipeg and registered his first career assist and point on January 30 at Edmonton.
The Turku, Finland native recorded 25-41-66, 26 penalty minutes and a cumulative +30 plus/minus rating in 77 contests with Jokerit in the Kontinental Hockey League from 2019-21. He started the 2020-21 campaign on loan with the club and recorded 8-9-17 and six penalty minutes in 17 games. In 2019-20, he led KHL defensemen in goals, assists and points with 17-32-49 in 60 appearances and played in the KHL All-Star Game.
The 6-0, 196-pound blueliner also recorded 5-19-24 and 30 penalty minutes in 61 career games with HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League from 2016-19, helping the club capture the league title in 2016-17. He had 30-49-79 and 72 penalty minutes in 220 career games over six seasons in Finland’s top professional league (Liiga) with Tappara, KooKoo and TPS from 2011-18. The defenseman has represented Finland at several international tournaments, including the 2018 Winter Olympics, 2017 and 2019 (gold) IIHF World Championships and 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships (gold).
Vehvilainen, 24, made his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets on March 4 at Dallas, stopping three of four shots in 10:40 of action. He has gone 10-19-4 with a 2.77 GAA, .901 SV% and three shutouts in 34 career AHL games with Cleveland, including an 0-1-0 mark, 3.05 GAA and .875 SV% in one appearance this season. Selected by Columbus in the sixth round, 185th overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft, the Jyvaskyla, Finland native has gone 67-37-24 with a 2.00 GAA, .923 SV% and 14 shutouts in 132 career Liiga games with TYP, Sport and Karpat. The 6-0, 181-pound goaltender began this season on loan to JYP and went 3-7-3 with a 3.18 GAA, .896 SV% and one shutout in 13 outings.
The Blue Jackets return to action on Saturday when they host the Dallas Stars. Puck drop from Nationwide Arena is set for 5 p.m. ET. Live coverage on FOX Sports Ohio begins with the Blue Jackets Live pre-game show starting at 4:30 p.m. All Blue Jackets games televised on FOX Sports Ohio will also be streamed live via FOX Sports GO. The game may also be heard on the Eldorado Scioto Downs Blue Jackets Radio Network, including 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, and online at BlueJackets.com.
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