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Leafs prospect bolts for two year deal in KHL

So long, thanks for… nothing?

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Toronto Maple Leafs 2017 second round draft pick (59th overall) Eemeli Rasanen is taking his game to the Kontinental Hockey League. The hulking 19 year old blue liner has reportedly signed a two year agreement with the KHL’s Jokerit Helsinki.

 Leafs 2017 2nd RD pick Eemeli Räsänen signs a 2 year in the KHL.
Räsänen was drafted out of the OHL, which gave the club until June 1, 2019 to sign him. However, if Toronto’s given him a Bona Fide offer in the last calendar year, today’s news extends that window to June 1, 2021

According to a report from Sportsnet reporter Luke Fox, Rasanen has known for months that he’d be making the switch and signing in the KHL for 2018-19.

“I need harder games than junior,” the towering Toronto Maple Leafs prospect said Tuesday at development camp.
“That’s what I decided after Christmas. I want to go pro. I didn’t know then where I wanted to go, but then I decided the KHL must be the best for me.”

“I was top-one or top-two D-man. That was a position, honestly, I’ve never been before,” Rasanen said. “I was always under that.”

The 6 foot, 7 inch, 226 pound defenseman has patrolled the blue line for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL the past two seasons, putting up give goals and 33 points in 61 games during the 2017-18 campaign. The Finnish native will look to continue his development with Jokerit the next two seasons and is eligible to return to the Leafs organization in 2021-22.

After a stalled season in junior, Rasanen felt it necessary to turn pro in order to take his game to the next level. As for the Leafs’ coaching staff, they’re of the opinion that this will be a good move for the youngster.

“He’ll need to continue working on his development there, and we’ll be there to support him in his individual process,” said Leafs director of player development Scott Pellerin.

Rasanen, for what it’s worth, thinks he has a real shot at earning a job with the Leafs down the road. “I don’t think I’m really far from there,” he smiled.