Forsell scores, Lekkerimäki puts up a point, and a chat with Connor Lockhart in Blackfish: The CanucksArmy Prospect Report
Photo credit:Nick Barden
By Faber6 months ago
It was a quieter week in the world of the Vancouver Canucks’ prospects. We had some SHL preseason games, and Champions League play, as well as the beginning of the KHL regular season.
We saw a couple of prospects hit the scoresheet in these games as well as one not getting into the lineup despite a strong preseason.
Let’s get into the week that was for the prospects as well as dive into some of the clips of the week.
Begin with the Finnish
We are kicking things off with the two defence prospects playing in the Finnish Liiga. The regular season kicks on off Tuesday, September 13th, and we are in the final week of preseason action in Liiga. The Canucks have two defencemen playing in Liiga this season and one of them hit the scoresheet this week.
Joni Jurmo had an assist in a Sunday match as he was the 3LD for his Jukurit squad as they participated in Champions League play. Jurmo had the secondary assist as he chopped the puck up ice which led to a partial breakaway.
Jurmo played in two games this past week and was the 3LD for both of his appearances.
We expect to see him be on the bottom pairing to begin the Liiga season and if he plays with the confidence he had at the World Juniors, the hope is that he can work his way into a top-four role with Jukurit. This is Jurmo’s second season with Jukurit in Liiga and he played in 50 games last season.
The other Liiga defenceman is the Swedish-born Viktor Persson.
Persson played in back-to-back games on September 1st and 2nd with his new team, the Pelicans. The 20-year-old, right-shot defenceman was used as an extra skater in both games this week and looks to be on the outside looking in of the top-six defenceman.
We are hoping that Persson gets a chance to use his size and high-level skating in Liiga this season but with the regular season just one week away, he hasn’t been on a consistent pairing with his new club. We will follow how his season goes but for now, we are just looking for minutes instead of production.
Sweden always gets its own heading
This past week saw a pair of Swedish prospects hit the scoresheet. We will begin with SHLer Lucas Forsell, who played in two CHL (Champions Hockey League) games this past week and scored a goal on Sunday.
Forsell was used in a fourth-line role during both of his games with Färjestad this week. He played left wing on Friday and right wing in Sunday’s CHL game.
His goal came after the puck took a weird bounce toward the net but as we consistently see from Forsell, he was in the dirty areas of the ice and was able to get his stick on the puck and backhand it into the back of the net.
As he did at the 4-Nations tournament last week, Forsell looked dangerous at five-on-five throughout the weekend. He was able to get a pair of shots on net in each of the CHL games that he participated in this week and continues to lean on his good skating and strong puck skills to generate scoring chances for Färjestad.
Though we didn’t see Forsell in a top-nine role this week, it is looking like he should see significant time on his SHL team’s power play this season. He’s used in multiple positions on the power play and tends to have the puck on his stick a lot on that second unit.
On top of the goal and a pair of good games, Forsell celebrated his 19th birthday on Monday.
Heading over to the pair of 18-year-old Swedes, we will begin with the Canucks’ top prospect, Jonathan Lekkerimäki.
Lekkerimäki played left wing on Djurgärdens’ third line last week and put up his first point of the preseason with a secondary assist on a five-on-three power play.
The preseason has shown us that Lekkerimäki will be a big piece of his Allsvenskan team’s power play unit and should be used in a middle-six role to start the season. It was interesting to see him skating on the left wing this week and it did open up the chance to walk into the middle of the ice during rush chances.
Lekkerimäki now has eight shots on goal in two preseason games. He is looking aggressive with the puck so far in his first season of Allsvenskan play.
Back to the SHL we go for left-shot defenceman, Elias Pettersson.
It was a quiet week for Pettersson, as he didn’t find the scoresheet in three SHL preseason games. Pettersson played in three different roles throughout the week as he began as the seventh defenceman on Thursday, played as the 3LD on Saturday, and the 2LD on Sunday.
We’re expecting to see Pettersson be battling for a bottom-pairing role with his SHL team, Örebro. There have been times this summer where Pettersson has looked very good and his play has warranted a chance to be an SHL defenceman this season. There may be some time spent in the J20 league this year if he isn’t getting enough minutes in the SHL but all signs are pointing to him at least being the seventh defenceman for Örebro when their regular season kicks off on September 17th.
No-go for Zlo
After a strong preseason performance for the young Russian, Dmitri Zlodeev didn’t have his name called for his KHL team’s regular season opener.
Zlodeev was called for game two of the season for Spartak, where he received 3:18 of ice time.
The 20-year-old centre has been seen playing right wing for Spartak in the preseason and had success in the limited time that he received on the power play before the regular season began.
Note: We have changed the spelling from Zlodeyev to Zlodeev as per reported by the Canucks.
Catching up with Connor Lockhart
We caught up with 2021 sixth-round pick, Connor Lockhart this week after he wrapped up a busy week with his new OHL team. The Peterborough Petes held their training camp last week and Lockhart is very excited to be a part of one of the stronger OHL teams this season.
Lockhart, the former third overall pick in the OHL draft, needed a move to a team where he could showcase his skill. Last season, he played with a poor Erie Otters team that finished 17th out of 20 teams with a 27-37-4 record. Lockhart finished the season with 23 goals and 25 assists in 64 games with the Otters.
“I have a lot of unfinished business,” said Lockhart. “I was drafted third overall into the OHL in 2019. And I was drafted where I was for a reason — because there’s a very high ceiling. I feel like I haven’t really been able to achieve what I wanted to yet. I have a lot of respect for the Erie Otters, taking me as a 16-year-old, and helping me grow as a person and a player, but I feel like there were times when I wasn’t able to play the way I wanted to play. I felt like I was kind of pressured into doing certain things.”
“Now, I believe I can reach my full potential. That thought comes from hearing from the coaching staff here at Peterborough. The plan they have in place for the team, it just seems like this fit is great for me and I’m really going to have an opportunity to play my game and buy into the team systems and really just be able to use the strengths that I feel like I haven’t really been able to use yet.”
The goal for Lockhart is to have a highly productive season and this be his final year in the OHL. The 5’9″ winger has a ton of speed and skill and had to miss his entire draft year in the OHL due to the 2020-21 season being cancelled due to COVID-19.
Lockhart has been in constant communication with the Canucks and took away a lot of solid advice from his time at development camp. He clung to every word of advice that he received from Henrik and Daniel Sedin and called it a privilege to be able to be on the ice and learn from two Hall of Famers players.
Canucks development camp was a great opportunity for Lockhart to showcase his skills but also give the organization an update on what he has been working on this summer and how he plans to continue to prepare for the upcoming OHL season.
“I really understood what to work on the summer,” said Lockhart. “You hear the basic answers from a lot of players who say they’re getting bigger, faster and stronger and that’s great, but I think everyone is ultimately trying to do that in the summer. For me, I was really just trying to target specific areas of strength that I can really improve on.
“So like, I’m the smaller guy and I’ve been really trying to work on my explosiveness and my puck protection. Being a smaller winger, you’re going to have to protect a lot of pucks on the wall and be able to make hard plays while being strong. So we spent a lot of time on explosiveness to win puck battles in the hard areas. That’s something that I’ve talked a lot about with the Canucks. I really have to be able to handle all the knocks and bumps in the corners.”
Building up his strength in the tough areas of the ice is crucial for Lockhart. He clearly has good hands and speed but will need to play harder than anyone on the ice to have success in the professional ranks.
Lockhart plans to attend the Young Stars Tournament with the Canucks next weekend and wants to prove his worth and earn a contract to make the jump to the AHL for 2023-24.
“This is my year to show Vancouver why I deserve an NHL contract,” said Lockhart. “Ultimately, I feel my offseason work is going to speak for how I play this season. I’m really excited to see how things go because I’m very, very happy with the work I’ve put in this summer.”
We will be following along with Lockhart’s play at the Young Stars Tournament. He is primarily a winger in the OHL but we have seen the Canucks use Lockhart as a centre in the past during camps. He participated in last year’s main camp and learned a lot from Canucks captain, Bo Horvat. Lockhart hopes to be on the ice for Canucks training camp in Whistler at the end of the month and plans to learn as much as possible if given the opportunity to be on the ice with the big club.
This wraps up the week that was for Canucks prospects. If there’s a prospect you’d like me to get in contact with in the future, let me know in the comments! We will have another Blackfish Report next Tuesday and that will set the table for the Young Stars Tournament, which we will be in attendance for.
See you all next week!
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