After what can easily be described as a chaotic first round up until that point, the Vancouver Canucks used their 15th overall pick to draft 17-year-old Jonathan Lekkerimäki in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, held in Montreal, Quebec.
The 5’10” right-winger from Huddinge, Sweden, was ranked 6th amongst EU skaters by NHL Central Scouting, 8th overall by Bob McKenzie, and was not expected to be available once the Canucks were on the clock. Draft day has held a number of surprises and one of those being Patrik Allvin using his first-ever pick as the General Manager of Vancouver to select the fellow Swede rather than trading down or focusing on drafting a defenseman.
The repeated praise for Lekkerimäki centers around his shot ability from all over the ice. He has been described as a goal scorer with multiple different weapons in his arsenal, from one-timers to wrist shots, and an impressive knack for lighting the lamp.
Lekkerimäki has played with the Djurgårdens IF organization over the last two years, notching 16 points in 8 games with the J18 team in 2020-2021 and 35 points (including 20 goals) in 26 games with the J20 team in the 2021-2022 season despite his youth in comparison with the players around him. He’s also spent time with the Swedish National team, most notably when he led the tournament in scoring at the 2022 IIHF U18 World Championship with 15 points in six games, helping Sweden bring home the gold medal. All this is to say: the kid can score.
While it’s unclear which jersey Lekkerimäki will play in next season, it wouldn’t be a stretch to envision him competing with Vasily Podkolzin for the spot of second-line right winger for the organization in the future, bolstering the offense of the Canucks’ top six and bringing his goal-scoring skills to British Columbia. With Henrik and Daniel Sedin holding positions in the organization’s player development department, it will be exciting to see the impact they have on the young Swedish player, especially with their own experience transitioning from the SHL to the NHL over two decades ago when they were both selected in the first round by the Canucks.
Without a pick in the second round, the Vancouver Canucks won’t draft again until round three with the 80th overall pick.