Jonathan Lekkerimäkki is a right wing from Stockholm, Sweden who is eligible for the 2022 NHL draft. Lekkerimäki has had an exceptional first half of the season in the Swedish top-tier juniors league, J20 Nationell, where he has recorded 17 + 12 in 21 games. He also helped team Sweden to a bronze medal in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August where he scored five goals in five games.
Lekkerimäki is a pure goal scorer with tremendous offensive instincts. In the offensive zone, he works hard off the puck to create space to shoot. He also brings the puck to the net to challenge goalies in tight using his soft hands. Lekkerimäki draws comparisons to Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks. Both of them possesses shots disproportionally heavy relative to their respective sizes. Lekkerimäki is, however, more prone to put himself in a shooting position than Pettersson, who tends to look for the extra pass.
Lekkerimäki has moved up the draft rankings during the first months of the 2021-22 season. As of November 2021, he is listed between #9 and #29 by the major scouting bureaus. If his form continues, he could be selected among the first 10 players. Lekkerimäki will likely get the chance to represent Sweden in the 2022 World Junior Championship that could further improve his draft stock.
|Date of Birth||July 24, 2004|
|Place of Birth||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Height||181 cm / 5’11”|
|Weight||78 kg / 172 lbs|
|FCHockey Draft Ranking||#29|
|NHL Draft Eligibility||2022|
Lekkerimäki´s is willing to put himself in a shooting position. He uses his hockey sense to create space for himself in the offensive zone where he is constantly ready to shoot. Simultaneously, he is aware of his teammates’ positioning and will pass the puck to anyone in a better shooting position. On top of his hockey sense and shooting, he has elite straight-line speed and is mobile in tight spaces.
Lekkerimäki´s offensive success is based on his ability to find open ice for shooting. In the offensive zone, he creates space for himself. While doing this, he is helped by his keen hockey sense to anticipate moves by his opponents and teammates. In the J20 Nationell, he plays on the right wing as a right-handed shot but often moves towards the middle to improve the angle. He is good at adjusting himself for a shot even before the puck has arrived. Though he has to work to find his tee during five-a-side play, Lekkerimäki thrives during the powerplay where he can conquer the half-wall or the bumper position.
Lekkerimäki uses a quick release and can shoot from tight spaces, even when the puck is not completely in his wheelhouse or is awkwardly aligned for a release, he will shoot the puck. In addition, both his wrister and his slap shot is accurate, and he lets go of the puck without first handling it.
Another aspect of Lekkerimäki´s shot is its velocity. He has yet to gain senior weight but can fire the puck at a high pace. He has mastered using the momentum of his body to release the puck. Lekkerimäki initiates the shooting movement from his feet, turns his core, and adds power to the shot with his arms. Finally, he drops his right knee for a last push. The result of his weight transferring before shooting is a golf-like movement that releases the puck at high velocity.
Together with his scoring ability, Lekkerimäki uses his vision to distribute the puck in the offensive zone. In fact, his passing skill makes him even more dangerous as opponents have to respect his passing options. His awareness of where his teammates are in the offensive zone is impressive, and he can open passing lanes by signalling that a shot is coming.
Lekkerimäki uses his elite speed to transport the puck from the defensive to the offensive zone. He handles the puck with poise and often takes the shortest route to cut through defenders. While gaining the blue line, his lateral mobility deceives defenders, and he does this without decreasing his uncompromising speed.
Close to the net he can fire his wrister without dropping his pace. When he is outnumbered by defencemen, he attracts defenders to his advantage by passing the puck backwards to a teammate. If he does not manage to score off his initial shot or by his pass, this is an effective start to his team´s offence.
Offensive zone intensity
Lekkerimäki uses his speed to contribute to the forecheck. He is intense along the boards but can improve his strength while battling for the puck. His lacking size could also be a problem in tight areas where he cannot protect the puck through his speed. When caught by opposing defenders, he can get pushed off the puck when he tries to protect it. When this happens, he tends to become frustrated, and he needs to turn irritation into motivation to improve in the physical aspects of the game.
Lekkerimäki will give an honest effort backchecking but can improve in some defensive aspects of the game. Occasionally, he will use the momentum of his speed to deliver a hit during the backcheck. He can, however, improve when he gets into physical altercations along the boards in a standstill position. Lekkerimäki can also improve his positioning in the defensive zone where he tends to focus too much on the puck at the cost of defensive coverage. To become a more well-rounded player, he will have to use his hockey sense to cover areas in the defensive zone to shut down the opposition.
Lekkerimäki is an elite skater with solid lateral mobility. He uses a low centre of mass when taking his strides that enables him to combine high straight-line speed with manoeuvrability. He also has the balance to quickly transfer his weight from one side to another, which he uses to deceive defenders. His mobility is integral to his shooting efficiency, where he agilely moves into position to release his one-timer.
Lekkerimäki has the potential to develop into a 30+ goal scorer in the NHL. So far, he has shown nothing but excellence at the U18 and U20 levels, both internationally and in the domestic Swedish leagues. He has yet to contribute offensively at the pro-level in Sweden, where he has earned three appearances in the top-tier pro league. However, for Lekkerimäki, it is important to let development take its time, as he lacks the physical attributes to play against men. As for the NHL draft ranking, he could be a top 10 selection if his scoring pace continues in the J20 Nationell.