Lehtonen signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Leafs worth $925,000 back in May with the intent of making the jump to the NHL next season.
However, as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston explains, Toronto is letting the Finnish defenceman return to his KHL club in order to play some games since the start of the 2020-21 NHL season will be delayed.
With the AHL announcing that their season will start on Dec. 4, 2020, it would make sense for Lehtonen to start the season in the KHL which is currently in its pre-season schedule.
As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote recently in 31 Thoughts, Leafs prospect Egor Korshkov was also planning to play in the KHL on a “loan” in order for him to have an opportunity to play.
Lehtonen averaged 22 minutes per night with Jokerit last season and had 49 points in 60 games — the sixth-highest total of any player in the KHL.