Looking for a fun goal scorer in this year’s draft? We might just have your guy.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki had himself a very solid season, coming close to scoring at a goal per game pace in Sweden’s J20 Nationell level before being promoted to the SHL where he was able to continue that work very nicely, putting up seven goals in 26 games there. Not quite the same torrid pace, sure, but it was enough to turn some heads and elevate his stock heading into the draft. There’s a lot to be excited about here.
BSH 2022 Community Draft Board, No. 13: Jonathan Lekkerimaki
Team: Djurgårdens IF J20 (J20 Nationell) / Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
Statistics: 20 G, 15 A in 26 GP (J20 Nationell), 7 G, 2 A, in 26 GP (SHL)
No. 6 (EU skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 12 by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)
No. 9 by Dobber Prospects (April)
No. 14 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
As you may have gathered from the scoring totals we’ve mentioned already, Lekkerimaki’s bread and butter is goal scoring, and his biggest asset in that is his shot. It really is something else (Corey Pronman lists it as “high end” in his prospect ranking), combining a very quick and deceptive release with great accuracy from all over the ice, and it’s something that we’ve seen give opposing goaltenders trouble at all levels. His vision is also very good and he’s shown an aptitude for finding space and shooting lanes in the offensive zone, or sticking with plays to create them when they aren’t immediately available. We’ve seen him clock opponents caught puck watching with frequency and exploit that, which is certainly a nice additional strength.
The rest of his game, while not as flashy, is still quite solid. He’s a clean passer and that vision also helps him to find passing lanes to feed his teammates for chances. He forechecks well, this is perhaps an underrated element of his game, and doesn’t shy away from bringing a bit of physical edge when the moment presents itself, and can be trusted defensively overall. His skating is also good, not stellar, but his mechanics are fine, his first few strides are good, and he’s able to build speed well, to boot. He isn’t an absolute burner, but he can still bring pace, and we didn’t see him struggling to keep up when he was promoted to play with the SHL squad.
Speaking of that promotion: while he might not have as extensive of a record playing in a professional league like the SHL as some of the players we’ve talked about already on the draft board, 26 games is still a nice little sample for a player in his draft year. And while we’re being careful about not making too many sweeping judgements from it, it does remain that his scoring touch already seems to be translating nicely to the professional game, and he was working well to create chances and find space (rather than just getting lucky and riding some kind of shooting percentage bender to impressive results). If nothing else, he already has a nice professional foundation to build on.
What’s not to like?
We’re not coming into this section with a whole host of big concerns about Lekkerimaki’s game, even at this point in his career, which is good news. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren't areas that need improving on, or that might give some pundits a bit of pause. For one there’s the fact that while the rest of the elements of his game are good, no single area pops in the same way that his shot does, and that might leave some viewers wanting a bit more, depending on their stylistic preferences.
The other piece is that he’s just not a very big player, at 5-foot-10.5 and 172 pounds. A more relevant concern than just the raw size is that he can get caught playing a bit too much on the perimeter and overly relying on that shot, which can be troublesome for a smaller player, so it’s just going to take a bit of work to break him out of that habit, but the size in and of itself is a full stop concern for some. This really shouldn’t be a huge issue, but to each their own, we guess.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
This is a slightly more tricky area. On the one hand, the Flyers aren’t exactly thin at wing, particularly at right wing, in their prospect pipeline, so to take Lekkerimaki wouldn’t be to address a purely very positional need. And while it’s becoming something of a longstanding joke with fans screaming that the Flyers need more shooters, well, they do actually need more shooters. They’ve done a wonderful job putting together a pipeline full of playmakers, but now they need to go and find a few more players who are built to finish on those chances being set up. There’s still some polishing that needs to go into Lekkerimaki’s game, as we said, but he certainly would still give them a boost where they need it.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
They sure could! He’ll be on the board when they’re set to pick at fifth overall, but for them to grab him there would mean them leaving some more talented players on the table. But, on the off-chance that they do move back outside of the top-10, Lekkerimaki becomes a more interesting name for them to consider.
We’ll make a new addition to the poll:
Owen Pickering— D, Swift Current (WHL) — 9 G, 33 P in 62 GP
Pickering’s tools are evident to anyone who watches a game or two. He’s a 6-foot-4 defenseman who skates quite well for his size and has offense. He can carry through the neutral zone to create controlled exits/entries and is good on retrievals. He can also pull up to make a good outlet or seam pass in the O-zone. He can use his size and feet to close on checks efficiently. Pickering’s ascent has been quick, and thus there are some raw aspects with his play with the puck and overall consistency. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic
Who should be no. 14 on the 2022 BSH Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed
2022 BSH Community Draft Board
1. Shane Wright — C, Kingston (OHL)
2. Juraj Slafkovský — LW, TPS (Liiga)
3. Logan Cooley — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
4. Simon Nemec — D, HK Nitra (Slovakia)
5. Matthew Savoie — C, Winnipeg (OHL)
6. David Jiricek — D, HC Plzeň (Czechia)
7. Joakim Kemell — W, JYP (Liiga)
8. Conor Geekie — C, Winnipeg (OHL)
9. Frank Nazar — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
T-10. Brad Lambert — C, JYP/Pelicans (Liiga)
T-10. Cutter Gauther — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
12. Ivan Miroshnichenko — LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
13. Jonathan Lekkerimaki — LW, Djurgårdens IF J20 (J20 Nationell) / Djurgårdens IF (SHL)