MIKKO LEHTONEN | #43
D | 6′ 0″ | 196 lb | Age: 27 | Columbus Blue Jackets
- Born: January 16, 1994
- Birthplace: Turku, FIN
- Shoots: Left
Mikko Lehtonen (born 16 January 1994) is a Finnish professional ice hockey defenceman currently playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League (NHL). After leading the KHL in points among defensemen with Jokerit of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Lehtonen announced he would continue his career in the NHL, and would sign a one-year entry level contract with the Maple Leafs. On March 12, he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Lehtonen made his SM-liiga debut playing with TPS during the 2011–12 season. For the season 2015–2016, Lehtonen moved to the team KooKoo for a two-year contract. He made his breakthrough in the league and made all the 60 regular rounds. Lehtonen ranked Juha Leimu of Pelicans in the second round of the SM Liiga defender’s goal. In the 2016–17 season he was KooKoo’s second best point-keeper and the most powerful defender until the threshold of the Liiga move. In February 2017, Lehtonen spent the rest of the season for the Swedish SHL League in HV71 and he won the Swedish Championship at the end of the season.
On 9 April 2019, Lehtonen as a free agent left HV71, returning to Finland in signing a two-year contract with KHL participant, Jokerit.
Lehtonen, appeared in 60 games with Jokerit during the 2019–20 season and registered 49 points (17 goals, 32 assists), which led all KHL defencemen. He represented Jokerit at the 2020 KHL All-Star Game and was named KHL Defenceman of the Month in three consecutive months from November to January. He had a goal and three assists in six KHL playoff games prior to the cancellation of the season.
As a free agent Lehtonen gained NHL interest and on 4 May 2020, the Toronto Maple Leafs, signed Lehtonen to a one-year entry level contract for the 2020–21 season. With the North American season delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on 1 August 2020, Lehtonen was returned to Jokerit on loan until the resumption of NHL training camp in November. Lehtonen was released from his contract with Jokerit on 20 November 2020, having collected 17 points through 17 games.
On 12 March 2021, Lehtonen was traded by the Maple Leafs to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Veini Vehvilainen.
Internationally, Lehtonen has represented Finland at multiple events, include the World Championships in 2017 and 2019, winning gold at the 2019 tournament and earning recognition on the World Championship All-Star Team. He also skated for Finland at the Olympic Games in 2018 and the 2014 World Junior Championships, where he captured gold.
AUDIO COURTESY COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS COMMUNICATIONS
INFORMATION COURTESY NHL & WIKIPEDIA COMMONS