Jonathan Lekkerimäki earns 2024 Elite Prospects Award as top junior player in SHL

Photo credit:X/@abbycanucks
Dave Hall
1 month ago
You can add another notch to Jonathan Lekkerimäki’s impressive list of accolades throughout the 2023-24 campaign.
On Tuesday morning, the 19-year-old was awarded the 2024 “Elite Prospects Award,” edging out his fellow countryman and long-time international teammate, Noah Östlund.
The award, founded in 2013, is presented to the top junior player (U20) in the SHL and has been handed to some highly touted NHL stars of today.
  • 2013: William Karlsson
  • 2014: Alexander Wennberg
  • 2015: Axel Holmström
  • 2016: Gustav Forsling
  • 2017: Joel Eriksson Ek
  • 2018: Elias Pettersson
  • 2019: Emil Bemström
  • 2020: Nils Lundkvist
  • 2021: Moritz Seider
  • 2022: Simon Edvinsson
  • 2023: Leo Carlsson
Lekkerimäki led the U20 circuit in goals (19) and points (31) in 46 games and established himself as one of Örebro’s key cogs throughout the year, earning the team’s MVP award. He added a primary assist across three play-in games.
“It’s obviously exciting to receive this award for my season,” Lekkerimäki told EP Rinkside.
“I think my season has been good,” Lekkerimäki said. “I integrated well into the team and gained trust immediately, so it was just about pushing forward, which I think I demonstrated throughout the season. I feel like I’ve developed everything during the season, both offensively and defensively. Attacking the goal and taking shots.”
While the award focuses on his SHL achievements, Lekkerimäki’s success extended beyond the Swedish league. He tallied seven goals and 10 points across seven games at this year’s World Junior Championship, taking home a Silver Medal and tournament MVP.
Additionally, he posted his first North American professional goal and assist, after skating in six matches with the Abbotsford Canucks.
“It was good, educational; I got to play on a smaller rink and experience how it was there. It was fun to play a few games too.” Lekkerimäki reflected on his time in North America.
“The biggest difference from the SHL, I thought, was the play along the boards. There was also a bit more physical play and less time with the puck over there. Fast-paced and enjoyable nonetheless.”
Currently, Lekkerimäki is preparing for a final mini-tournament (Betano Cup) with Team Sweden before the World Cup, where he will face off against Switzerland, Czechia, and Finland (May 2-5). This tournament serves as a final opportunity for national teams to make their final roster decisions ahead of the upcoming World Cup, set to begin on May. 10th in Czechia.
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