While Bergevin announced on lock-out clean out day that Antti Niemi would not be back next season, he wasted no time in replenishing the Canadiens' Finnish cupboard. Monday the club announced that they had signed Otto Leskinen to a two-year entry level contract worth $925 000. The undrafted 22 year old left handed defenseman will be waiver exempt and could find himself in Laval to start the season.
It's also worth mentioning that he's been Joni Ikonen's teammate in the Finnish Elite League for the last two seasons and both were coached by former NHLer Sami Kapanen. This last season, Leskinen spent a lot of time on the ice when KalPa Kuopio was on the power play and he got 54.8% of his 31 points with the man-advantage. An offensive defenseman, Leskinen is hoping to start the year on the NHL roster but time will tell if that's a realistic goal. With 3 of the Canadiens' 4 LDs currently being unrestricted free agent (Jordie Benn) or restricted free agents (Brett Kulak and Mike Reilly), there might be room for some new blood. It's safe to say that Reilly will not be back and as for Benn, it will really depend on how much money he's looking for.
While the Habs NHL roster is on holiday, there are still some prospects that are chasing some hardware. Most notably, Nick Suzuki is currently involved in the Ontario Hockey League's final while his Guelph Storm is taking on the Ottawa's 67's . Suzuki registered 3 assists in Guelph's 7-2 win on Monday night which allowed them to cut Ottawa's lead in the series to 2-1. These playoffs, he's gathered 35 points in 21 games and I must admit I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do come rookie camp. As I'm writing this, the 3rd game is underway and the 67's have taken a 1-0 lead in the 1st period.
Meanwhile in the QJMHL, Joel Teasdale, who was signed as a free agent by the Habs last summer, is featured in the final series with his Rouyn-Noranda's Huskies taking on the Halifax Mooseheads. He's hot on Suzuki's tail for the scoring race in the Canadian Hockey League with 31 points in 17 games. The Q's final series is now tied 2-2 and while Teasdale got 2 goals on Monday, his Huskies were beaten 5-1 on Tuesday night. The Canadiens normally hold their development camp towards the end of June so we've got a month and a half to wait before we see the prospect rocking the red, white and blue but until then, let's hope the both battle for the Memorial Cup.
As for the 2nd round of the NHL playoffs, the curtain will fall on it tonight as the Sharks will welcome the Avalanche for the final game of this series. It's not yet known if Joe Pavelski will return to action tonight but he would sure come in handy in this do or die situation. Should he be available, he'd be playing his first game of the second round and that would be a huge boost to San Jose's chance of joining the final 4. While the Bruins and Hurricanes will kick off the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday in Boston, the place, date and time of the Western Conference Final remains to be set as both San Jose and Saint Louis finished ahead of Colorado.