Mikko Lehtonen led the Providence Bruins in goals in each of his two seasons in North America but managed to get in just two games with the big club in Boston.
He’s not going to get a chance to add to that total this season, as the big Finnish winger has signed a one-year deal to play for Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Elite League. The Bruins, who tendered him a qualifying offer this offseason, will retain Lehtonen’s NHL rights.
Lehtonen has good size (6-foot-3, 196 pounds) and speed, but despite his impressive scoring totals, he struggled to adjust to the more physical style of play in North America. He did put up 51-52-103 totals in 150 games in Providence over the last two years, leading the club with 28 goals in 2008-09 and with 23 goals and 51 points last year. He was scoreless in his two appearances in Boston, finishing a minus-1 with one shot in 7:08 against Montreal on Nov. 5 last season and managing one shot in 16:14 at Buffalo in his NHL debut on April 11, 2009.
Lehtonen, 23, would have been a long shot to see further action in Boston with the influx of young talent up front in the system. The addition of forwards like Joe Colborne, Jordan Caron and Max Sauve would have left Lehtonen battling for ice time on a scoring line in Providence as well.
A native of Espoo, Finland, Lehtonen was taken in the third round (83rd overall) of the 2005 draft. He joins a Skelleftea team that also features former Bruin Petr Tenkrat and Anders Soderberg, who was drafted by the Bruins in the ninth round in 1996 but never played in North America.