Brayden Fengler / July 8, 2022
The Canucks add yet another Swede to their depth chart, as they draft right-winger Jonathan Lekkerimäki 15th overall.
On many lists, such as Sam Cosentino’s list for Sportsnet.ca, Lekkerimäki was slated to fall within the top 10 players selected in this year’s draft. So although no draft picks predetermined to go in the top five ended up falling down the board for the Canucks, Lekkerimäki was still a welcomed bonus nearly halfway through the first round of the draft.
A Brief History
Last year Jonathan Lekkerimäki scored a total of 37 goals in 21 games in his U16 & U18 international competitions for Sweeden. His points total in those 21 games of tournament play were also nearly equal in terms of both goals and assists, hinting toward Lekkerimäki’s play-making and finishing abilities.
In Jonathan’s last season of league play, he split his time between Djurgardens Jr. and Djurgardens IF of the SHL. He evenly played a total of 26 games for both clubs over the course of the 2021-22 season. Earning nine points with the SHL club and an understandably much larger sum of 35 points with the Jr. team,
At 5″11 172 pounds Lekkerimäki isn’t the biggest player on the ice but as is evident by his production, at least among his developing peers, his size hasn’t been an issue for him. Even though Lekkerimäki falls just short of the magical 6ft number for his height, he’s by no means a small player. At 17 years old, he also has plenty of time to put on more mass to assist him in transitioning to the NHL.
Next Year for Lekkerimäki
Currently, his rights in the WHL sit with the Vancouver Giants as coincidence would have it. So no matter how you slice it, with the Canucks, Abbotsford Canucks, or even the Giants, Lekkerimäki’s North American options for hockey next year don’t stretch beyond the geographical borders of the Lower Mainland.
It’s still hard to tell what the Canucks roster will look like come the start of this year, let alone a year or two from now when Lekkerimäki is approaching the age of 19 or 20 and may be more NHL-ready. With that said, there is always the chance, no matter how slim, that a first-round pick at any number, can impress during training camp and earn themself a spot on their new club’s roster.
Is this likely? Probably not. If this version of the Canucks was to largely stay together, without adding new pieces to the right side, Lekkerimäki would likely be fighting Justin Bailey and Will Lockwood for that last depth spot on the right. Two players who in their own rights have made a case to be that depth for the Canucks.
When Will We See Him
Perhaps the Canucks resurrect the alleged Miller trade that fell through on the draft floor. Along with making a few other moves that shuffle the depth chart in Lekkerimäki’s favour. However, in all likelihood, we’re at least two years out from seeing an effective Lekkerimäki play meaningful games for the Canucks.
Hopefully with the Allvin regime, gone are the days of rushing the team’s first-round picks into the NHL fire, because it’s all they have. Hopefully, we may now finally see players properly and slowly developed in the minor leagues.
Lekkerimäki is likely to be one of the first to go this route. But with all his North American Hockey rights tied up in BC one way or another, when Lekkerimäki makes the trip across the pond, eager fans won’t have to drive too far to see him, no matter where he plays.