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Brad Treliving adds big Jani Hakanpaa as UFA shopping ends



Brad Treliving adds big Jani Hakanpaa as UFA shopping ends

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The Maple Leafs added one more mountain to their growing Bay Street Range as their productive NHL free agent shopping day went into early Monday evening. 

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After a few hours’ break following the signings of Chris Tanev, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Anthony Stolarz, general manager Brad Treliving added 6-foot-7 defenceman Jani Hakanpaa. 

This one, for two years with an AAV of $1.5 million US, is a bit more of a gamble. Hakanpää has not seen game action since March when the Finn suffered a lower body injury that never improved and he wound up missing the team’s playoff run to the Western Conference final against Edmonton. 

But Treliving has been doing his medical homework and in what has become an extended weekend of renovations to Toronto’s blue line, added Hakanpaa to Tanev and Ekman-Larsson, both 6-foot-2.

The Leafs’ draft picks in Vegas on Friday and Saturday, led by first-round defenceman Ben Danford, were also leaning to the large side. 

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While they thought they’d bulked up enough for the playoffs last year with Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson, Toronto let both go in free agency and tried a different route. 

A right-hand shot, Finnish junior national Hakanpaa was originally a mid-round selection of the St. Louis Blues, but played his early years at home and came to the NHL as a free agent signing of the Anaheim Ducks. He was a favourite for laying on the body, though traded to Carolina at the end of the 2020-21 season, then signing a three-year deal in Dallas. When healthy, he averaged more than 18 minutes of ice time. 

In 288 total NHL games, he has 15 goals, 45 points and 173 penalty minutes, with one goal in 33 playoffs games. 

X: @sunhornby 

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