“I’m a goal scorer,” was Jonathan Lekkerimaki’s answer to a similar question three different times when meeting the media after being selected 15th-overall by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2022 NHL Draft. “I’m a goal scorer.”
The soft-spoken Swede with the Finnish last name, his grandfather is from Finland, spent the last three seasons with the Djurgardens program in Stockholm. Aside from tallying 35 points in 26 Swedish junior league games, Lekkerimaki also managed seven goals in 26 games playing with men in the Swedish Hockey League.
The pick does potentially address depth needs long-term on the right side of the ice, but not on the back end, where there were still a few pick options available.
The 5-11, 170-pound right wing arguably has the ‘best shot’ of all the high-end talent at this draft. He said he prefers his wrist shot over his slapper.
Lekkerimaki’s present hockey hero just happens to be Vancouver Canucks centre Elias Pettersson, and he appeared absolutely thrilled with being selected by the club. He’s also fond of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who must seem a bit more mythical. Lekkerimaki was seven years old when the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.
“Yes, very great Swedes, and I am so proud to be part of this organization,” Lekkerimaki said.
‘One-dimensional’ might be one perceived knock against the lanky winger, but Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin expects Lekkerimaki’s game to become more well rounded.
“I think he’s a lighter … I don’t want to put to much pressure on him, but I think he’s a lighter Lucas Raymond (Detroit’s Swedish rookie winger who just had 57 points in 82 NHL games) where he has the ability to be a play-maker and a goal scorer. I think that’s important.”
Lekkerimaki will likely play second-tier professional hockey in Sweden next year, although a Western Hockey League option has conveniently opened in Vancouver, where the Giants selected him for the WHL junior import draft.