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Blackfish: Jonathan Lekkerimäki’s goalscoring streak, Aatu Räty’s heater, Arshdeep Bains’ NHL debut, and more

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Photo credit:Nick Barden
Dave Hall
3 months ago
Welcome back to the Blackfish Prospect report.
Somehow, we’ve reached the final report of February, and by next week, many of the club’s prospects will be near to wrapping up their regular seasons.
One of the depth chart’s big names made his NHL debut this week, two prospects posted big statistical weeks, and Abbotsford saw some badly needed reinforcements return to the lineup.
First, let’s dive into the statistics.

AHL

The Abbotsford Canucks came into last week struggling, having lost 11 out of 17 since the turn of the clock to 2024, scoring one or fewer goals in six of those games.
However, things finally began to turn around last week when they won all four games, scoring 13 goals to boot. Those eight points pushed them to a 27-17-3-2 record and helped the Canucks maintain their fifth-placed spot in a tightly contested Pacific Division.
The Canucks’ turnaround came despite the absence of their leading scorer, Arshdeep Bains, who had been recalled to the big club after ranking sixth in AHL scoring.
Bains made his NHL debut in Colorado and played in three games throughout last week. Despite not registering a point, he led the team with three hits and finished the game with two shots on goal, two penalty minutes, and a minus-two on the plus/minus chart.
Despite the lack of points and underwhelming advanced metrics in his debut, Bains was rewarded with top-six minutes alongside J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser the following game against the Kraken. He finished his week with four hits, four penalty minutes, three shots on goal, and a minus-3 on the plus/minus chart.
His hard work ethic has been a breath of fresh air on a team that needed that injection of life and did not go unnoticed.
“I’m a big fan — I like him a lot,” Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said Sunday following practice. “There’s another level, and he has earned a spot right now. I don’t know how long it’s going to be; Maybe it’s the rest of the year, but he has earned it.
The story of Bains’ ascent to the NHL is truly remarkable and offers multiple angles of inspiration. Undrafted in both the WHL and NHL, Bains consistently overcame the odds through junior to eventually lead the league in scoring before signing with Vancouver as an overager. Overcoming those early struggles helped him transition to the professional level; the Surrey native grew up an avid fan of the team and can now say that he made it to the show, becoming the fourth player of Punjabi descent to do so.
Down on the farm, Aatu Räty was making waves of his own, scoring three goals and seven points across four games.
This surge in production comes as a welcome relief, as he ties the total number of points (7) he had in the 2024 calendar year heading into the week (17 games).
Are the point totals totally surprising? Not really.
As we’ve highlighted numerous times in this report, Räty has excelled when stepping up into the top six and when deployed on the wing. It’s almost become a pattern that whenever he goes through a cold streak, it’s likely due to being moved back to a third-line center role.
With 34 points, he’s now tied with Linus Karlsson, who’s also been on a hot streak of his own, for second place on the team in points. Additionally, that’s good for the seventh-highest points total among all U22 AHL skaters.
What’s more impressive about his game so far is his ability to produce at even strength. With Bains in Vancouver, Räty sits tied with Max Sasson for the team lead in 5-on-5 points (20).
Räty is also tied with Karlsson and John Stevens for the second-best goal differential at 5-on-5, with a plus-7.
Charts courtesy of CanucksArmy’s Cody Severtson.
His standout moment of the week came during the penalty kill on Saturday, where he showcased his skill: charging into the opposing zone, Räty grabbed his own rebound, deflected the puck off a defender’s shin pad to score his first goal of the game. He later scored an empty-netter for his second of the night, securing the team’s fourth-straight victory.
While it’s terrific to see him succeed over the week, it’s worth noting that he leads the team in secondary assists, with 15 out of his 22 helpers being secondary. This isn’t meant to diminish his contributions, but it’s an important factor worth considering before getting too excited about the possibility of a call-up.
This week saw a nice surge in production. Until he can consistently generate points and start driving play on his own, it’s probably wise to let him adapt to a more prominent role in Abbotsford for now.
Max Sasson picked up two secondary assists, bringing his total to 29 points in 41 games, tying him for the 10th-most points among AHL rookies.
As the chart above shows, Sasson sits atop the 5-on-5 goal differential leaderboards, with Abbotsford outscoring opponents 31-20 when he’s on the ice at 5-on-5. His strong rookie year has been characterized by a knack for elevating his linemates thanks to his speed and motor.
Worth noting: Sasson was held out of Saturday’s lineup after taking a high hit in Friday’s match. There haven’t been any updates on his status for Tuesday’s match against the Colorado Eagles.
Due to injuries and a Jett Woo’s call-up, Cole McWard shouldered significant responsibility for the Abbotsford Canucks as one of the last remaining right-shot options in the lineup. He played top minutes, leading the power play and anchoring the penalty kill for much of the past week.
Despite the added pressure, McWard performed admirably, finishing the week with a plus-3 rating while scoring his third goal of the season.
His plus-11 rating ranks in the top 15 among all AHL defenders, and he stands second on the Canucks in 5-on-5 goal differential with a plus-9.
McWard was listed as our number-10 prospect in our midterm rankings and has shown promising progression as a reliable third-pairing NHL defender.
The team’s blue line finally received a much-needed boost over the weekend with the return of Filip Johansson and Akito Hirose from lengthy injuries.
Johansson, who had missed eight games with an upper-body injury, wasted no time in his return to action, making an immediate impact with his fourth goal of the year. He returned to his usual role on the second pairing, playing big minutes on the penalty kill and power play.
As for Hirose, it was his first game since December 2nd and just his 13th of the season. He skated as the extra defender and spent some time on the second power play.
I could not catch his return to action, so I won’t attempt to offer any insights on his performance, but I look forward to getting some looks this week. From what I saw in my quick views, he looked quick on the ice, but we’ll have more for you next week!
An interesting development came between the pipes this week, where the Canucks rode Nikita Tolopilo for three straight games. He picked up wins in each and now has the fifth most victories among AHL rookie netminders (13).
The 23-year-old Belarussian has made a strong impression in his debut season in North America, boasting a .908 save percentage and a 13-7-0 record. He’s demonstrated an ability to step up in crucial moments and deliver key saves for this Abbotsford club. He and Arturs Šilovs have sustained bouts of inconsistency, but Tolopilo has often looked quite comfortable considering his experience.
Don’t worry; this doesn’t indicate a change in the depth chart hierarchy. Šilovs, who made 29 saves in a 5-2 win on Saturday night, is still considered the go-to option for the Canucks’ near future, but with three wins over his last 12 starts heading into the week, sometimes you simply have to ride the hot hand.
Šilovs currently holds a .903 save percentage and a 14-10-3-2 record on the year.

OHL

Kirill Kudryavtsev scored his first goal since December 15th this week, bringing his total to five on the year, three shy of his previous season’s high. He also contributed two more assists, bringing his season total to 42 points and keeping him on track to hit the 50-point mark for the second consecutive year.
He also boasted a plus-5 rating over the week, bringing him to a plus-28 on the year, a notable improvement from his minus-15 rating last year. This total (plus-28) places him comfortably in the top 10 league-wide among OHL defenders.
After a disappointing stretch which saw him score just three goals in 29 games, Vilmer Alriksson showed a little life over the weekend, collecting three goals, putting him up to 13 goals and 28 points over 55 games.
Josh Bloom cooled off right after our last Blackfish report, grabbing just a single assist while sporting a minus-5 over three games. He’s got eight goals, 19 points and plus-5 over 23 games with Saginaw.

Sweden

The beat goes on for Jonathan Lekkerimäki, who added another two goals and three points over the week and now boasts six goals in his last six games.
The first goal came in overtime, where he showcased his speed while anticipating a stretch pass. Protecting the puck, he fought off the defender before executing a clever far-side chip past the goaltender, securing his fifth game-winning goal of the season. Those five game-winning goals now rank third in the entire SHL.
The second goal of the week was likely the easiest he’s scored all year, as he capitalized on a rebound for his 16th of the season.
The bounce-back season continues, as he’s up to 26 points on the year. To illustrate just how impressive his season has been, let’s take a look at how his statistics stack up, both from a team and a league perspective:
Örebro
  • Goals: 16–First
  • Points: 26–First
  • Even-strength points: 19–Second
  • Power play points: 7–Second
  • Corsi For Percentage (CF%): 53%–Third
SHL
  •  Goals: 16–Sixth
  • Game-winning goals: 5–Third
  • Even-strength points: 19–Eleventh
  • Power play goals: 7–Fourth
He currently leads the entire U24 circuit in points (26) and has been instrumental in his club’s playoff push.
With seven games remaining, Örebro holds a three-point cushion in the playoff table. Their final game is on March 12th, so Canucks fans will be eagerly awaiting the results of the SHL Playoffs in hopes that he may be scoring goals for Abbotsford by late March.
Lucas Forsell scored this week, sneaking into the zone and cashing in on a one-timer.
Across 40 games, he’s produced just four goals and five points, averaging 9:15 of ice time–he’s only eclipsed the 13-minute mark of ice time on three occasions all season.
Despite being the only full-time member to average less than 10 minutes per game, he sits sixth on his team with 18 hits on the season and fourth among forwards with 18 blocked shots.
Färjestad holds a comfortable spot as the SHL’s top team, setting up for a deep run for the waterbug Swede this spring.
Elias Pettersson contributed a lone secondary assist this week, bringing his season total to two goals and 12 points. He ranks fourth among Vasteras defenders in CF% (52) and sits fourth in hits (23) despite playing over ten fewer games than those teammates ranked higher.
With five games left in the season and their final match on March 8th, his club team remains nine points outside the HockeyAllsvenskan playoff standings.

NCAA

Tom Willander contributed two assists over the weekend, although they weren’t particularly noteworthy enough to warrant clips.
Despite being slotted into Boston University’s third pairing, the 19-year-old finished his pair of games with an impressive plus-6 rating over two games, bringing his season total to plus-23. That’s the fifth highest (tied) across the entire NCAA, giving him a plus-six margin ahead of his nearest teammates with the Terriers.
With four goals and 18 points, Willander ranks third among U19 defenders and sits fifth on his team with 26 blocked shots.
Ty Mueller picked up a goal over the weekend, giving him nine goals and 24 points on the year.
He’s now just one point shy of his career high, which he posted last season. Mueller made the Honourable Mentions section of our Top-10 prospect list.
Aku Koskenvuo stopped 35 of 37 shots but lacked support from his team, resulting in a 2-2 tie, his fourth tie of the year. He relieved the starting goalie in the previous game and allowed two goals on nine shots. Koskenvuo’s record stands at 3-5-4, and his save percentage is finally above .900 (.903).

WHL

Sawyer Mynio had a week to forget, grabbing just a single assist and a minus-4 over four games. He continues to sit second among the Seattle Thunderbirds roster with 12 goals and 41 points on the year.
Ty Young made 32 saves to secure a 2-1 victory, marking his 18th win of the season. However, despite starting most of the Prince George Cougars’ first half, he has ceded the starting job to Joshua Ravensbergen, who boasts a remarkable 22-4-0 record with six shutouts. Nevertheless, Young has seen improvement, as he brought his save percentage above .900 for the first time in a while, now standing at .902 for the year.
Thanks for tuning in for another week. As always, please feel free to submit any questions in the comment section, and I will make sure to get to them in next week’s installment.

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