Mikko Lehtonen, who was chosen as KHL's best defender last season, will continue to play in the Jokers next season.

The Jokers say in a statement that it has agreed with the NHL club Toronto Maple Leafs on the return of Lehtonen, 26, to the Jokers under a loan agreement.

- Mikko Lehtonen does not need any introductions to the joker supporters and we are very pleased that we will get him back to our team. We are grateful to Toronto Maple Leafs, GM Kyle Dubas and his team for their well-functioning collaboration on the transfer, says Jari Kurri, Joker Kurri’s chairman and principal owner, in the press release.

- It was clear to me that I wanted to come back to the Jokers if the company just wanted to. The environment, playmates, and coaches are familiar to me, which makes it easier for me to do my own thing, and I want to help the team as much as I can. This is the best possible place for me to prepare for the NHL season, Lehtonen commented.

In the KHL season, which was interrupted by the coronavirus just before the playoffs, Lehtonen played 60 matches in the Jokers at 17 + 32 = 49, breaking the club's one-season defender record and finishing sixth on the KHL points exchange.

Lehtonen was one of the key players in the Lions World Championship team in the spring of 2019. In the Finnish Championships, he has represented the Turku Ball Club, Kouvola Kookoo and Tappara. In addition, Lehtonen has played in the Swedish main series in the ranks of HV71.

The transfer of the Turku-based defender behind the cliff to the Canadian club Toronto Maple Leafs was announced in May.

  • Read more: Mikko Lehtonen, who made a wild impression at KHL, will move to Toronto

So now Lehtonen is preparing for his conquest of the NHL in the Joker's shirt, until the upcoming NHL season 2020–2021 starts sometime in the future. Currently, the NHL is only launching the playoffs for the 2019-2020 season, which was interrupted by the coronavirus.

- Lehtonen will join the Jokers 'training strength next week and play for the team with his familiar number 44 from last season. He will travel to Toronto Maple Leafs' strength at the start of NHL season 2020-21 training camps, the Jokers release reports.