Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2022 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Jonathan Lekkerimaki Scouting Report.
Swedish winger Jonathan Lekkerimaki had a breakout performance at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He put up five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in just six tournament games. The performance led Sweden to the Gold Medal as well as earning Lekkermaki a spot on the Tournament All-Star Team, and the Tournament MVP.
Lekkerimaki split the season between Djurgarden’s SHL team, playing in the country’s top men’s league and playing in the Swedish Under-20 league. In the SHL, he put up seven goals and two assists for nine points in 26 games. He dominated at the junior level. Lekkerimaki scored 20 goals and 15 assists for 35 points in 26 games. He helped the J20 squad to a second-place finish in the league. Lekkerimaki also helped Sweden to a bronze medal at last summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky tournament. He scored five goals in five tournament games. Lekkermaki played three games with the Swedish Under-20 team, scoring one goal. He has a good chance to make the World Junior team in the rescheduled tournament this summer.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki Scouting Report
Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born July 24th, 2004 — Huddinge, Sweden
Height 5’11’ — Weight 172 lbs [180 cm/78 kg]
Lekkermaki has been criticized by some for his skating, and while it is not bad, it is very average. This can be a bit of an issue as he is a bit undersized. His stride is a bit choppy and he needs a bit more knee bend. These poor mechanics are holding him back, as his top-end speed and acceleration are merely average. His cross-overs, edgework, and agility are a bit better. This allows him to be extremely slippery, both with and without the puck. His quick changes of direction allow him to separate from a defender and create a shooting or passing lane.
With a July birthdate, he is a little younger than most players in this draft class. As he matures and gets stronger, he should be better at winning battles on the boards and in front of the net. He is not afraid to be involved but has issues against bigger opponents.
Lekkerimaki is a pure goal scorer. He loves to shoot the puck and does it with a wide array of powerful and accurate shots. His wrist shot, snapshot, one-timer, slapshot and backhand are all strong weapons for him. He gets his shot off in a hurry, with a very deceptive release. Lekkerimaki can score goals in a variety of ways though. He has the hands to go to the net, get deflections and pounce on rebounds. He also has the soft hands to make moves in tight to the net. Lekkerimaki elevates the puck extremely quickly in tight to the net. He also does a very good job of finding open ice without the puck. Lekkerimaki is able to find the soft spots in the defence and get himself ready for a pass from a teammate.
He can also contribute as a playmaker. Lekkerimaki has excellent stickhandling ability, allowing him to make quick moves and open up passing lanes. He also does a decent job of controlling the puck in the cycle game. When an opening is created, Lekkerimaki can slide the puck through a tight passing lane to set up a scoring chance. His awareness, IQ, and vision are all above average. Despite his lack of size, Lekkerimaki plays a physical game. He gets in on the forecheck, pressuring defenders into making mistakes. He also does a good job of winning battles on the boards.
Lekkerimaki’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. His lack of speed can be a problem at times, as he can be the last forward back at times. He also sometimes struggles when helping the defenders down low against bigger and stronger opponents. Lekkerimaki uses his stick to try and intercept passes or poke check the puck away from an opponent. He is not always as physically engaged in his own end as he is in the offensive end. There are also times he cheats, looking to fly the zone and get on the offence before his team has successfully cleared the zone. There is certainly a bit of work to do for him here.
Projection and Comparison
Lekkerimaki will likely return to Djurgardens next season. However, they had a poor season in the SHL and have been relegated to the Allsvenskan. This may not be a bad thing for his 18-year-old season as it will likely mean more ice time and playing full-time in a men’s league instead of bouncing back and forth with junior. Some work with a good skating coach can really help Lekkerimaki. He also needs to work on his defensive game. However, he is amongst the best pure goal scorers as you will find in this class and you can work on the other skills, but that is something that comes naturally.
While mostly playing at centre right now, a move to right-wing may be in his future where the skating and defensive issues can be hidden a bit more. He is a bit of a risky pick, but one who could play on a top line if he fully develops and reaches his ceiling. In terms of style, his game is reminiscent of Kyle Connor. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Jonathan Lekkerimaki that are available on youtube and Twitter.
Make that 6 goals in 2 J20 games for Jonathan Lekkerimaki pic.twitter.com/9PGMnoPCwH
— NHL Draft Watch (@DraftWatchNHL) September 17, 2021
Hat trick for Jonathan Lekkerimaki (2022) #J20Nationell pic.twitter.com/b04PNRmBaB
— NHL Draft Watch (@DraftWatchNHL) September 17, 2021
Jonathan Lekkerimaki has certainly put a circle around his name at this years U18 tournament. Now leads the tournament in scoring.
Another quality option who could be available for the Sens. pic.twitter.com/ummddMRygL
— Derek Lee (@DLee075) May 1, 2022
A nice breakaway goal from Sweden's Jonathan Lekkerimaki and it's tied at 2-2. #U18Worlds pic.twitter.com/xsJceJWLGe
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) April 24, 2022
Jonathan Lekkerimaki knots it up at three apiece in a great comeback effort for the Swedes. #HlinkaGretzkyCup pic.twitter.com/G7Anvfe6zk
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) August 3, 2021
Jonathan Lekkerimaki makes it 3-2 Sweden. A hat-trick for the forward. #HlinkaGretzkyCup pic.twitter.com/WG3dVrF7is
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) August 6, 2021
Check back tomorrow for our latest 2022 NHL Draft Article.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki Scouting Report Main Photo:
The best pure goal scorer in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft?
Here’s a look at his DY-1—>DY progression from the top Swede in the draft! He’s been almost too good for the under-20 league, and has scored a bit when in the SHL.#NHLDraft2022 #SHL #Lekkerimaki pic.twitter.com/GHLTaIwbf0
— Draft Year Hockey (@DraftYearHockey) April 4, 2022