Vancouver Canucks sign 2022 first-round pick Jonathan Lekkerimäki to entry-level contract
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By Faber7 months ago
Vancouver Canucks’ General Manager Patrik Allvin announced early Saturday afternoon that the team has signed forward Jonathan Lekkerimäki to a three-year, entry-level contract.
The 2022 first-round pick played his most recent season with Djurgården in the Allsvenskan league over in Sweden. He finished the regular season with three goals and six assists over 29 games but turned his game up for the playoffs, where he had five goals and 10 assists in 15 games.
“Jonathan had a good run in the playoffs and gained a lot of valuable experience but unfortunately his team fell short of its ultimate goal,” said Allvin in a press release from the organization. “Each player’s development path is different and in Jonathan’s case, he had to deal with a lot of adversity this past year. But with each challenge he faced, he found a way to learn and grow. With the help of our staff, we will find the best path forward for him and we look forward to Jonathan joining our development camp in July.”
Lekkerimäki spent time with Canucks development coach Mikael Samuelsson this season. As mentioned in the final part of Allvin’s quote — Lekkerimäki will be here in Vancouver for Canucks development camp in July.
The signing of Lekkerimäki opens up some doors for the Canucks to have more control of his development. He is not coming over to play in North America but there are some options in Sweden for him that make a lot of sense.
As we reported earlier this week, multiple SHL teams are interested in having Lekkerimäki join their club.
The teams we have heard are very interested in Lekkerimäki are Skellefteå, Färjestad and Leksand — all three being in the SHL, Sweden’s top league.
Färjestad or Örebro are our favourite destinations for him in the SHL. Getting Lekkerimäki together with another Canucks prospect would allow more time for the Canucks organization to work with the prospects and is just for comfortability in the Canucks organization.
Lucas Forsell is with Färjestad and Elias Pettersson (D-Petey) is with Örebro.
Lekkerimäki clearly has the puck-handling ability that you need to see from a prospect with top-six potential and seeing his play improve for the playoffs was a great sign even though he has battled through a tough season that was stuffed full of injuries and setbacks. Lekkerimäki was more physically engaged in the playoffs and looked much more reliable at five-on-five. He’s always going to be good on the power play but to get to the level where you are confident that he is going to be successful in the NHL — he’s going to need to continue to improve on his play at even-strength. The Canucks should get Samuelsson a lot of time with Lekkerimäki next year, we like the way that Samuelsson played and that’s the exact type of skill that Lekkerimäki needs to add to his game.
Getting back into the SHL is what Lekkerimäki needs and his strong play in Sweden’s top league was a big reason why he was selected so high in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Lekkerimäki had seven goals in 26 SHL games during his draft season and the hope is that he can find himself in a top-six role with whichever team he is loaned to in the SHL.
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