We had a relatively slow week this week in the world of Canucks prospects but there’s still a handful of highlights to get to and some positive stories to dive into.
Along with the week that was, we are now just a few days away from the beginning of the Young Stars Tournament out in Penticton and caught up with Abbotsford Canucks forward Tristen Nielsen to chat about his expectations of the upcoming tournament.
We have all that and more in this week’s Blackfish Report, so let’s get into it!
Note: No YouTube video this week, you’ll have to actually read this article for the prospect information.
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Sweden always gets its own heading

We begin with the Canucks’ top prospect, Jonathan Lekkerimäki. The young Swedish winger played in two Allsvenskan exhibition games this week and found the scoresheet in both appearances.
Let’s look at him scoring a goal on the power play where he walks the puck from the right side to the left and then releases a strong wrist shot that beats the goaltender.
It’s going to be fun to watch Lekkerimäki’s shot continue to develop as he gets bigger and stronger over the coming years. It’s clear that he has a top-notch release on his shot and it’s likely to only improve from here on out. We are also hoping for a bit better defence against him because that penalty killer was not really putting up much of a fight.
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Now, let’s look at Lekkerimäki’s primary assist from this week as he picks up the puck off the faceoff and sends it out to the point, where the defenceman makes no mistake and rips a shot past the goalie.
Though we are consistently seeing power play production from Lekkerimäki, we aren’t seeing the same level of offence at five-on-five. The kid is getting shots on net but hasn’t been able to break through with much at even-strength. We have also seen Lekkerimäki being used as a third-line winger while other younger players are getting a chance to move up the lineup for Djurgärdens.
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We hope to see Lekkerimäki in more top-six lines once the regular season begins but we know that he is going to be productive on the team’s first power play unit from his strong play in the preseason.
The other Allsvenskan player of note is right-shot defenceman Jonathan Myrenberg. We don’t have any highlights to show of his week as he only played in one exhibition game and was the right-side defenceman on the third pairing for Mora. It’s looking like Myrenberg is going to bounce between the second and third pairing for Mora this season and we hope that he finds a groove and can fight for a spot on the top pairing.
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As for the Allsvenskan regular season, we will see that get going next weekend as teams begin their fight for a chance to be promoted to the SHL.
Speaking of the SHL, let’s go check in on EP2.
Elias Pettersson only had one game this week with his SHL team Örebro. Pettersson played 13:10 in the game and had one shot on net when he jumped into the play and was calling for the pass like Quadrelli screaming at me that I have a 9 pm deadline on this article.
As the preseason continues, we believe that Pettersson is going to factor into his SHL team’s starting six defencemen for opening night. He has played both the left and right side for them and is consistently receiving minutes in the preseason even when the team is dressing eight defencemen.
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The SHL season gets going this weekend and we will be keeping an eye on Pettersson getting into of the opening weekend games.

Finland kicks off Liiga regular season

Today marks the beginning of the Finnish Liiga season. The top league in Finland began their play today and we are keeping our eyes on the two Canucks defencemen playing in this league.
One prospect had a great week while the other didn’t see the ice for their exhibition games.
Let’s start with the good. Right-shot defenceman Viktor Persson scored a goal in a 5-0 shellacking that saw him get a chance to skate on his Liiga team’s top pairing. Persson found some open ice on the right side of the offensive zone and half-clapped a shot past the goaltender for the Pelicans’ fourth goal in the game.
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We are still pretty unsure if Persson is going to factor into the Pelicans’ opening night lineup. He has had a couple of games where he has played significant minutes in summer exhibition games but we have also seen him as the seventh defenceman more than anything. We are leaning toward believing that he is going to be the seventh defenceman to start the season but he has the ability to play both sides and should be able to get into some Liiga games sooner or later.
As for the bad, we saw Jukurit play a couple of games this week without the services of left-shot defence prospect Joni Jurmo. After showing some promise in a few exhibition games, we’re not sure if there’s an injury or what is keeping Jurmo out of Jukurit’s lineup.
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Tying up loose ends

Just some quick news and notes to get to before my chat with Tristen Nielsen.
Connor Lockhart is playing on Peterborough’s top line as the right-winger. We are expecting a big season from the right-winger who we spoke with last week and wrote about in last Tuesday’s Blackfish Report. Expect to see a lot of his highlights this season as that Peterborough Petes team is primed to score a lot of goals and it’s a good sign that Lockhart is already sliding into the top line.
We also confirmed that Lockhart will be attending the Vancouver Canucks main camp in Whistler the week after he attends Young Stars camp.
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Dmitri Zlodeev is now semi-consistent in his KHL team’s lineup. He’s playing games with Spartak and being used for around seven minutes a night. He did have an assist last week on what was a major KHL-vibe goal. Zlodeev poked the puck back to his teammates who fired in a shot that bounced over a pair of sticks before landing back on his stick and he fired it into the back of the net. Zlodeev received an assist on a goal that he wasn’t even on the ice for.
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Just wanted to quickly give an update on NCAA prospects as well. The student-athletes have returned to their schools and are practicing with their teams. We are going to be getting games fast and furious when the calendar switches over to October. We’re pumped for the NCAA year to begin and will keep our eyes on Aidan McDonough (Northeastern), Jackson Dorrington (Northeastern), Jack Malone (Cornell), Jacob Truscott (Michigan), Jackson Kunz (North Dakota), and Aku Koskenvuo (Harvard).

This weekend’s Young Stars Tournament

We’ve been excited about this weekend for a long time and now the Young Stars Tournament is just a few days away.
If you’re wondering about the Canucks’ schedule, here’s how it looks.
Friday: 7:30 pm vs Edmonton
Sunday: 2:00 pm vs Winnipeg
Monday: 2:30 vs Calgary
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We caught up with Tristen Nielsen, who played last season with the Abbotsford Canucks and is excited for what’s to come this weekend in Penticton. It’s going to be much more physical than we have seen in development camp or at these summer skates and Nielsen is ready to go against a player who isn’t wearing blue and green.
“It’s going to be very exciting, I’m really looking forward to Young Stars,” said Nielsen. “You do some of these drills out here and you might have the guy beat but they’re not going to cross-check you in the stomach or something like that. So, with Young Stars, the intensity definitely goes up a large amount.
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“It’s nice because it gets you more into the game a little bit quicker. We always say ‘give a hit, take a hit,’ on the first shift and you’re good to go. It’ll be more intense out there. There’ll be the hitting, there’ll probably be fights. There’s going to be guys running around trying to prove themselves if you look at this tournament as a showcase, it’s no different than the AHL for guys trying to prove themselves.”
Nielsen is coming into this Young Stars with a chip on his shoulder as he has one year of pro hockey underneath his belt.
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The 22-year-old former Vancouver Giant has all the speed in the world and is looking to build on what he accomplished in his rookie season as a pro.
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“I have higher expectations going into camp this year,” said Nielsen when asked about the difference from last season to this season. “I worked all summer towards being confident and being ready to go into Young Stars and main camp. I’ve been holding myself to a higher standard since becoming a pro. I’m feeling confident and I want to have a big year. I mean, my contract is up this year. Just like a majority of our team. Everyone in this group is looking to play hard and have fun. Hopefully, we can keep winning and make it a little farther in the playoffs next year.”
Nielsen will be one of the players we expect to see leading this Canucks team at the Young Stars Tournament. He is a speedster who can play all three forward positions and was really beginning to turn a corner last year before suffering an injury that held him out of the conclusion of the season as well as the playoffs.
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We’re off to the Penticton for the tournament and will be sure to have you covered with every day of the Young Stars.
Normally we post a YouTube video with this article but we will be skipping this week as there wasn’t a ton going on and plan to have a huge wrap-up from Young Stars next week.
Finally, we are sitting down with Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development, Ryan Johnson on Tuesday and will have that article out for you to read on Wednesday morning.
Thanks for reading the Blackfish Report and if there’s a prospect you want to hear more about or want me to get in contact with, let me know in the comments.
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