Monday Mailbag: Höglander and Lekkerimäki are HOT, and the best centre for the Canucks to draft at 11th overall
Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
By Faber1 month ago
It was a pretty busy week for the Vancouver Canucks even though they didn’t take to the ice once this past week.
We saw a huge game from prospect Jonathan Lekkerimäki, the Abbotsford Canucks advance to the second round of the AHL playoffs, and some players commit to playing at the World Championships.
Lekkerimäki’s strong play needs to be noted because we reported all of the negative stories he had to deal with this past year. The kid is playing extremely well of late and is now over a point per game through 13 outings in the Allsvenskan playoffs.
It’s not just the offence, Lekkerimäki is much more active on the forecheck at even-strength and is finding a groove with how he is attacking the new at five-on-five. The power play strength has been there all along but this elevated play at even strength is certainly exciting to see.
He’s not coming to North America next season. He told us that he is comfortable in Sweden and the Canucks don’t want to force him over here — even though it would be awesome to see him develop in Abbotsford with youngsters like Danila Klimovich and Aatu Räty.
As for Abbotsford, they had a hell of a week. The Abbotsford Centre brought back some amazing playoff vibes. White towels waving, ‘Holiday’ by Green Day played after every Canucks goal — it was bliss.
Now, Abbotsford moves onto round two of the AHL playoffs and will face the best team in the AHL, the Calgary Wranglers. These two teams had a physical and emotional three-game series to close out the AHL regular season.
Prospects ripping it up and the AHL rolling?
That’s my damn music, baby.
It’s nice to get a serotonin hit from the Canucks after they let us down so much this season. It’s a nice wind down to a tumultuous 2022-23 season for the NHL club.
With all that being said, be sure to follow along CanucksArmy for our AHL coverage and we will certainly have a write-up about Lekkerimäki no matter what happens to him in the playoffs.
We’re not here for all of that, we’re here for all of the questions.
Without wasting any more words, let’s see what the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter had to ask this week.
I’d go with Jack Rathbone.
He’s been very good in the AHL playoffs and has a lot of skills that should translate to the NHL. He is certainly in a bad position right now to get a chance to begin the 2023-24 season in the NHL but he is playing well right now and a long AHL playoff run where he outplays Christian Wolanin would do a lot of good on how the organization evaluates Rathbone.
Rathbone has a tremendous shot and has found the back of the net in both of Abbotsford’s playoff games. He’s got a lot of skill but needs a big offseason to improve his defensive play. The kid has gone through some tough times since turning pro back in 2020.
The pandemic made it very difficult for players who were on the cusp of breaking into the AHL. Black aces and the AHL team being in Utica at the time certainly didn’t help.
I wouldn’t give up on Rathbone and I don’t think the Canucks will either.
I’d like to see him in Abbotsford but I very much doubt that will happen.
He’s comfortable in Sweden, living in Stockholm and the addition of Mikael Samuelsson to the Canucks’ development staff gives a boots-on-the-ground support that prospects need.
Samuelsson has been working on board play and other weaknesses in Lekkerimäki’s game. It may be a reason why Lekkerimäki has shown so well through these Allsvenskan playoffs.
The vibes out in Abbotsford are awesome and you can’t take that away from the Fraser Valley fans that have supported the team all year long.
I’m a big bubble gum or cotton candy guy but I had that Spumoni ice cream at The Old Spaghetti Factory last week and that was bomb. A nice mix of cherry and chocolate flavours with that pistachio hit hard.
Good vibes, I guess?
Roll a 50-sided dice once and if it hits a nat-50, he’s coming to Abbotsford.
Maybe he comes at the conclusion of his 2023-24 season in Sweden.
Both players will certainly be in the mix for a top-six winger spot. Nils Höglander has a lot of eyes on him for these AHL playoffs and so far, he is dominant.
He’s a great kid.
If he plays to his potential and plays his ass off, Rick Tocchet will love him. The decision-making is still not improved to a level that makes us overly-confident that Höglander will be a different player but if he works well with the new coaching staff, the sky is the limit because Höglander has that much skill.
He’s probably going to play most of next season in the AHL and get a call-up if the team needs a middle-six centre due to an injury.
We think he will be challenging for a spot out of camp for the 2024-25 season.
They like Swedes and they like upside.
There are a lot of Swedes in the J20 Nationell league and there’s a lot of upside in the Finnish U20 league. I’d watch for them to go to those leagues in the later rounds of this draft. It seems like this scouting team like size and speed as well. You can find a lot of that in Finland.
I’d choose Oliver Moore.
I like his play in the defensive zone but he also has some offence. It feels like if he did what he does but was 6’3″, he’s be in the conversation with Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov for the third or fourth-best prospect in this upcoming draft.
I’d keep an eye on two right-shot defencemen.
Felix Under Sõrum maybe in the fourth to the sixth round. He’s out of Sweden.
As a sixth or seventh-round pick, I’d pay attention to Tomas Kralovic out of Slovakia.
That wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy.
We have a busy week ahead of us with AHL and Lekkerimäki coverage. Be sure to keep it locked here and we will have Canucks Conversation shows on YouTube this Monday and Thursday with Abbotsford Canucks guests to chat about the second-round series.
That show is live at 1:00 pm PT. Come hang with Quadrelli and me!
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