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Maple Leafs prospect Jesper Lindgren signs with Finnish team HPK

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The deal takes Lindgren right up to the date the Leafs’ rights expire.

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Finnish team HPK announced that they have signed 20-year-old defender and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, Jesper Lindgren.

Lindgren, who was on an ATO with the Marlies for the playoffs, but did not play, spent the last four years in the MODO organization in Sweden. He played for the main team, relegated to the Allsvenskan this past season, and they failed to make the playoffs. He won the J20 championship with their junior team after the Allsvenskan season was over before coming over to Toronto.

Lindgren finished in the top 10 in points for defenders in the Allsvenskan and played a top pairing role most of the season.

A move to the Liiga might be a softer step up than trying to find an SHL team who wants him. Depending on the team situation and the roster, it might mean more ice time than he’d be offered in the SHL as well.

HPK was a playoff team last year, but they lost in the quarterfinals. The team will also be the home of 2017 draft prospect Kristian Vesalainen, who struggled in the SHL to get ice time.

The deal is for two years, and takes Lindgren right up to the summer of 2019 when the Leafs’ rights expire. He was drafted by the Leafs in 2015, 95th overall in the fourth round.

While Lindgren was on an ATO this spring with the Marlies, he never played, but the Leafs would have a much better idea of his state of development. A move to a top men’s league only slightly less competitive than the SHL is a good way for Lindgren to test himself and grow as a player.