It’s that time of year again! We’re less than a month away from the first round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, on Thursday, July 7. The Columbus Blue Jackets will be picking at #6 and #12.
Team: Djugardens (SHL)
Date of Birth: July 24, 2004
Birthplace: Huddinge, Sweden
Weight: 172 lbs
Ranked #9 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #18 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #16 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #12 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #9 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #9 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #6 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)
Ranked #10 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #8 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #8 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #11 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #8 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #14 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #19 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
Games Played: 26GP with Djugardens/26 GP with Djugardens J20
Like most people just learning about Jonathan Lekkerimaki, I was surprised to discover his nationality was Swedish rather than Finnish. The more I learned about the player, the more I liked him. Some scouts have declared Lekkerimaki as the purest goal scorer with the best shot in this years’ draft class. If he is still on the board at #12, it seems he would be a home run pick for the Blue Jackets. As long as management believes the rest of his skillset can come close to matching his goal scoring prowess.
He really rose up draft boards about halfway through this season after tearing up his junior club in Sweden, scoring 20 goals in just 26 games. He also tacked on 15 helpers in that span, dominating the junior ranks before getting the call-up to play in Sweden’s top league at only 17 years-old. As expected, his production slowed playing against men for the first time, but it was invaluable experience that will help him next year when he suits up full time for Djugardens.
His defensive game is by no means bad, nor is he a liability in that end, but like most young players who are dynamic offensively, he will need to improve without the puck. He’s not a physical player either, and would need to bulk up to sustain the rigorous North American game. He’ll have time to do both of those things in Sweden, as he recently signed a two-year extension with his team. If drafted, it would be a few years before we see him in Union Blue. With the amount of young forwards in the system, the Blue Jackets can afford to be patient if they believe he is worth the wait. Djugardens was relegated to the HockeyAllsvenskan which is just below the SHL, but this could work out to his benefit considering he will be just 18 years-old next season, and should get lots of minutes and opportunities in the Swedish AHL-equivalent.
When it comes to analyzing his game, let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. If you aren’t convinced already, Lekkerimaki will do quite literally anything to find the back of the net. Whether it’s a slap shot from the point that goes in before the goaltender has a chance to blink or a dirty net-front goal that finally trickles in after three or four whacks at it, Lekkerimaki wants every part of it, every time. His teammates tend to give him the Alex Ovechkin treatment on the power play, constantly trying to set him up for the one-timer at the top of the circle. - Alex Hobson, The Hockey Writers
Given Lekkerimäki’s ability to find open ice in the slot and in the neutral zone to key up passing lanes, he constantly puts himself in the position to succeed offensively. His shot off the rush and shot in a standstill position allows him to capitalize when he has the puck on his stick. There is a lot to like about Lekkerimäki’s offensive game and the fact that he can use utilize quality stick-handling to get out of sticky situations only increases his value. - Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
Unsurprisingly for a player with significantly more goals than assists, his biggest asset is his shot. His one-timer, his slap shot, his wrist shot are all considered very good. On the powerplay in particular, he has an Ovechkinesque knack for getting open for his wicked one-timer. His ability to recognize soft spots and get open for a pass is the strongest part of his hockey IQ. Despite his high goal totals, he is known as a strong passer, with the ability to find the open man on the rush. He’s unafraid to take on opposing players, using his deft stickhandling to deke through and open up a better scoring chance. - Ross A, Silver Seven Sens