Tag: Petri Kontiola

Petri Kontiola

Report: Kontiola joins KHL club Lokomotiv

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After spending roughly $500,000 to buy himself out of his contract in the KHL during the summer, forward Petri Kontiola is headed back to the Russian league according to a report.

Kontiola signed a one-year $1.1 million with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer.

However, Kontiola struggled at Leafs camp and was sent to the American Hockey League.

“We felt that he had a good start to camp,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle at the time of Kontiola’s assignment. “But once the pace of the camp, and the exhibition games got up there, that he wasn’t up to speed.”

While with the AHL’s Marlies, Kontiola joked, “I’ve got to make that money at some point” when asked if he had any regrets buying himself out of his KHL deal.

Kontiola, 30, was held pointless in 11 AHL games to go along with a minus-4 rating.

Last week the native of Seinajoki, Finland was placed on waivers by the Leafs with the purpose of terminating his contract.

Originally a Chicago Blackhawks seventh-round pick (196th overall) in 2004, Kontiola has appeared in 12 career NHL games all with the Blackhawks registering five assists.

Kontiola: ‘I’ve got to make that money at some point’

Petri Kontiola

For those who don’t remember Petri Kontiola, he’s the Finnish forward, who bought himself out of the final year of his contract, to return to the NHL.

It sounded like a good plan on paper. Kontiola, 30, spent roughly $500,000 of his own money to leave the KHL and sign a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

However, injuries he was battling throughout the summer forced the Leafs to assign him to the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.

“There are always things that players have to adjust to,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle told reporters last week following Kontola’s assignment. “We felt that he had a good start to camp, but once the pace of the camp, and the exhibition games got up there, that he wasn’t up to speed.

“He has been dealing with some injuries over the course of the last three months, he has some issues in that area, but we’re not in a position here to wait, we have to move forward.”

Originally a seventh-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004, Kontiola appeared in just 12 games for the Blackhawks during the 2007-08 season registering five assists.

Much of his first tour in North America was spent in the AHL with both the Rockford IceHogs and the Iowa Chops. Kontiola packed up and headed for the KHL following the 2008-09 season, but once again has the desire to play in North America and the NHL.

“That’s my goal,” he said of the NHL, despite starting the season Saturday in the AHL.

Kontiola also dispelled rumors he considered returning to Europe after things didn’t workout with the Leafs.

“I’m here right now, and I just want to get up there,” he said in regards to moving up to the NHL.

Kontiola also cleared up any health concerns saying, “I had something during the summer, but it’s all gone now and I’m ready to go.”

As for Carlyle’s comments about him not being up to speed at Leafs camp, Kontiola said, “I had my own reasons there. But I think I’m ready to play right now and just trying to work on my game.”

He joked, “I’ve got to make that money at some point” when asked whether he had any regrets buying out the final year of his deal in the KHL, but given his age and the money spent, there was likely quite a bit of truth there.

Though being so close to the NHL, affiliated with the Leafs, Kontiola appears quite far from being recalled by Toronto.

Toronto is deep at the forward position. Both Carter Ashton and Josh Leivo were healthy scratches for the season opener on Wednesday and Toronto acquired Richard Panik off waivers from Tampa Bay on Thursday.

PHT Morning Skate: Leo Komarov shows off piano skills

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov is back in the NHL after spending last season with Dynamo in the KHL. Apparently he picked up some new off-ice skills while overseas. Komarov showed off his hands behind the piano this weekend. (via Petri Kontiola)

TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie explains the origins of corsi in his new book Hockey Confidential. (TSN)

Bruins’ beat writer Amalie Benjamin explored the handedness inside the Boston locker room over the weekend and offered up an insightful piece. Despite selling more left handed sticks in Canada and Europe, they sell more right handed sticks in the US. According to an industry expert, the split is somewhere from 60-65 percent left handed around the world, and 60-65 percent right handed in the US. (The Boston Globe)

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller is paying a little more attention to the voices of his new teammates so not to have a repeat performance of what happened after he was dealt from the Buffalo Sabres to the St. Louis Blues last season. (The Vancouver Sun)

As the LA Kings look to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in 2014-14, their biggest offseason acquisition is someone you will see or hear very little from. (The Hockey News)

New York Times reporter John Branch chronicles the downfall of enforcer Derek Boogaard in his new book Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard due out this week. (The Globe and Mail)

Risk Factors: Toronto Maple Leafs edition

Randy Carlyle
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From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Toronto Maple Leafs

1. The culture thing. Since the salary cap era began, Toronto has been one of the worst teams in the league.

Some of the teams were simply bad and none of them were great, but it’s also true the Leafs fell apart when it mattered most. In fact, this is the third straight summer where one of the key questions surrounding the club is how it’ll respond to a monumental collapse.

As such, it’s hard to believe Phil Kessel or MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke when they promise Toronto won’t have to endure another 2-12-0 season-ending stretch. Part of that confidence stems from the belief they’ve addressed their culture problem, starting with new Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.

“I’m not sure the Leafs have [the right culture],” Maple Leafs CEO Tim Leiweke said in April, per NHL.com. “This is something these two gentlemen [Shanahan and general manager Dave Nonis] will have to work on. I definitely sense that we lack an identity and right now we’re a team that lacks direction, and we want to change that.”

The sticking point, though, is that Shanahan really just picked around the edges of the franchise’s core. Nonis and head coach Randy Carlyle kept their jobs, but each got new assistants. Shanahan also signed some complimentary players and rolled the dice on a few new veterans, but even with those additions the 2014-15 Leafs will look a lot like their predecessors.

Shanahan not only has to hope that’s enough to change the team’s culture, but that the team’s culture was what held it back in the first place. The Maple Leafs still have some significant question marks and if the issue in 2013-14 was that they simply didn’t have a playoff-caliber roster, then that’s a huge problem — because he’s done little to alter that.

2. They need to improve puck possession. Rather than claim that the Maple Leafs choked, some believe their poor play simply caught up with them.

Based on advanced statistics like Corsi and Fenwick, the Leafs overachieved last season. Toronto was one of the worst puck possession teams in the league and finished last in shots allowed (35.9 per game).

And just like with the team’s culture, Shanahan is betting on the notion Toronto’s poor performance wasn’t simply the byproduct of putting an inadequate team on the ice. He believes the squad is capable of controlling the play far more than it has in the past.

The Leafs took a unique approach in addressing this problem by bringing in Kyle Dubas as assistant general manager and to lead a new analytics department. The department includes Darryl Metcalfe, who built the once-popular advanced statistics website extraskater.com, which the Maple Leafs now own — and aren’t sharing.

“We don’t want anyone else seeing it,” Leiweke said, according to the Globe and Mail. “It’s called a monopoly. It’s good.”

Leiweke said he believes Dubas and Metcalfe will make the team smarter, but will that be reflected in future signings and trades? Will Carlyle be able to use this data to help the team now? The head coach was either unable or incapable of addressing such problems last season, so questions remain if this extra information will be impactful enough to make this existing group of Leafs at least passable in the short-term.

3. Will any of their summer gambles pay off? Let’s say hiring new assists for Carlyle isn’t going to fundamentally change the way the team is coached, and bringing in a 28-year-old assistant general manager isn’t going to revolutionize this franchise overnight.

After taking a minute to digest just how sad a time it is for Leafs fans when those are their best hopes for change, you’re left just hoping their summer signings will pay off — and this is where things get depressing.

As we’ve touched on already, Shanahan and Nonis didn’t change the team’s core. Instead, they’ve sign a lot of players that might be good, but are far from safe bets.

Stephane Robidas is a solid defenseman, but at the age of 37 might not have much left to give. David Booth limped through three seasons with Vancouver and is out to prove that he can stay healthy (he’s already off to a bad start) and still be a productive top-six forward.

Petri Kontiola, 29, hasn’t played in the NHL since 2007-08, but he’s eager to prove he belongs after several strong seasons in the NHL. He’ll have to start that journey in the minors, though, as he couldn’t even make the opening game roster.

From a cap perspective, the risk the Maple Leafs took on these players wasn’t great and therefore an argument can made that it’s okay if they don’t end up contributing much. What makes that misleading, though, is the fact that Toronto might not make the playoffs without such help. Last year, Mason Raymond was a good diamond in the rough signing, but so far it looks like the leading candidates to be this year’s version won’t pan out — which is problematic, given they lost Raymond over the summer and need to fill that void.

When it comes to their blueline, the Maple Leafs will look fairly thin if Robidas regresses or has another injury-filled campaign. If nothing else, the Maple Leafs defense was pretty healthy last season as five guys played in a minimum of 73 games each. It wouldn’t be impossible for Robidas to do the same in 2014-15, but he’s coming off of a season where he was limited to 38 contests.

Would the Leafs break up their top line?

Phil Kessel

The Toronto Maple Leafs top line of Tyler Bozak between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk combined for 133 points or 70 percent of the team’s scoring last season.

They were second only to Boston’s trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla, which accounted for 152 points in 2013-14.

However, James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail suggests it might make sense to break up the trio and spread the scoring around.

“Would that idiot break up that line?” coach Randy Carlyle said. “You’re saying that [about me]. Or you’re going to say it if I do it.”

Carlyle added, “We’re willing to experiment in training camp.”

That experimenting began on Saturday.

The Leafs dressed lines of Nazem Kadri, van Riemsdyk and Matt Frattin while Kessel played alongside Petri Kontiola and first-round pick William Nylander during a scrimmage on Day 3 of training camp.

The question of breaking up the top trio is prevalent as the Leafs attempt to find that elusive secondary scoring.

As Mirtle points out in his piece, winger Joffrey Lupul has played nearly half his even strength minutes over the past three seasons alongside Kessel. When the duo is together, the Leafs account for 3.7 goals per game. With them playing on separate lines, that number drops to 2.5 goals per game.

Keep in mind that’s a small sample size, but wherever Kessel plays, scoring seems to follow.

“You find ways to get it done out there,” Kessel said. “Obviously training camp’s getting used to guys and getting a feel for it.”

Kadri could also benefit from playing alongside van Riemsdyk on the team’s second line.

“If you see the teams that have success and make the deep playoff runs… they’re pretty balanced,” van Riemsdyk said. “They have a lot of depth. They can beat you in different ways.”

Expect the experimentation process to continue as Toronto begins its’ preseason schedule Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Related: Leafs deny rift between Kessel and coaching staff