Maple Leafs Trade D Mikko Lehtonen to Blue Jackets for G Veini Vehvilainen

The Toronto Maple Leafs have moved on from the Mikko Lehtonen experiment by sending the defenseman to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goaltender Veini Vehvilainen.
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded defenseman Mikko Lehtonen to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goaltender Veini Vehvilainen.

Lehotnen signed a one-tear entry-level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 4 but had a hard time getting minutes with the club.

In nine games this season, Lehtonen has three assists and averaged 11:52 of ice time.

"For the last little while we just haven't seen a reason to make a change on defence," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said on Wednesday. "We've reached a different phase of the season here."

The Leafs sent Lehtonen down to the AHL's Toronto Marlies shortly after Keefe's comments.

During the Leafs road trip out west last week, Lehtonen was one of the last players to come off the ice during morning skates and practices.

In moving Lehtonen, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas gives the defenseman a fresh start. 

The Leafs added to their goaltending depth by acquiring the 24-year-old Vehvilainen. He made his NHL debut on Mar. 6 in relief of Joonas Korpisalo. He made three saves on four shots in 11 minutes of ice time.

Vehvilainen, a sixth-round NHL Draft pick by Columbus in 2018, is in the final year of his two-year, entry-level contract that carries a $925,000 cap hit.

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