TORONTO — Mikko Lehtonen will make his NHL debut tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Winnipeg Jets at Scotiabank Arena on Monday.
Signed to a one-year, entry-level contract in the offseason, Lehtonen saw top-six reps throughout Maple Leafs training camp.
The 26-year-old also saw time on the team's second power-play unit during that time and will see those reps tonight against the Jets.
With the addition of Lehtonen, the Leafs go with seven defencemen and 11 forwards for the first time this season.
"We wanted to give him last week to give him a chance to watch the games and be in more meetings and get a better feel for things," Keefe said of Lehtonen. "We didn't want too much time to elapse before he gets in a game."
A change to the roster was necessary after forward Nick Robertson injured his knee in the first period of the team's 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Robertson will be out for at least four weeks.
"The results we got back, we'd classify as good news considering how it was looking," Keefe said about Robertson's injury. "But he is going to miss some time."
To prepare for the roster shuffle while under tight salary cap constraints, the Maple Leafs placed forward Jason Spezza and goaltender Aaron Dell on waivers on Sunday.
Spezza cleared on Monday and will likely be the team's 11th forward tonight against the Jets. The New Jersey Devils claimed Dell.
With Robertson's injury being at least four weeks, the Toronto Maple Leafs could place the forward on the team's long term injured reserve, but it's unlikely they will do that with Dell off the team's active roster.
Once a player is on LTIR, the move cannot be undone. If Robertson recovered quicker, they would also like to have the option of not waiting for the required ten games and 24 days he'd be required to stay out.
Projected Maple Leafs lines vs. Winnipeg Jets