2021-22 Team: Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Date of Birth: Jul. 24, 2004
Place of Birth: Huddinge, SWE
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 172 pounds
Position: Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
NHL Central Scouting: 9 (amongst EU skaters)
FC Hockey: 16
TSN/Bob McKenzie: 12
Dobber Prospects: 9
Smaht Scouting: 16
The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 12
The Hockey Writers (Zator): 8
The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 11
The last name sounds like it could be Finnish, but not only is Jonathan Lekkerimäki a born-and-raised Swede, but he’s also the top-ranked Swedish player in just about every rankings list you can find for the 2022 NHL Draft Class. And for good reason, too. When you look at the trajectory of his hockey career so far, one thing will jump out at you immediately; this kid loves to score goals.
His knack for finding the back of the net can be traced back to 2019-20 when he was playing for Djurgardens IF’s U16 team. He had a whopping ratio of 16 goals and four assists in 18 games and added another six goals to go along with 12 points in six playoff games that season. His production carried over to Djurgardens’ U18 team in 2020-21, where he continued to deliver with 12 goals and 16 points in eight games.
Related: 2022 THW Draft Guide
That brings us to this season, where scouts are quickly starting to learn Lekkerimaki’s name. A regular for Djurdardens’ J20 team, Lekkerimäki wasted no time proving that he deserved to be in the pros. He scored 20 goals through his first 26 games of the season and joined Djurgardens IF of the SHL around late October of 2021.
Since then, his production has dipped, but that’s to be expected for a 17-year-old prospect playing in a top European pro league. He only has nine points in 26 games, but he’s stuck to his sniper brand with seven of those points being goals. He’s also appeared in five games with Sweden’s U18 National Team and scored five goals in those games.
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.
Although the assist totals might suggest otherwise, Lekkerimäki is not a puck hog. Oftentimes you’ll find him scanning the ice for an appropriate pass option as often as he’ll let it rip, and his vision is above average in that regard. And while he’s only 5-foot-11, he’s deceptively hard to knock off the puck. Not necessarily in the sense that his size works in his favour, but he moves around like a water bug and can often slip away from opposing players with ease.
Lekkerimäki could stand to improve in his own end and on the physical side of the game, but neither of these should pose as concerns for the young Swede. For a player of his size and style, these areas being his fallbacks is to be expected. On a more important note, he’s not afraid to take a hit and will do so to help his team, which is icing on the cake for all of the other areas he delivers in.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Jonathan Lekkerimaki – Draft Projection
Rankings for this year’s draft class have seen Lekkerimäki has high as a top-10 pick and as low as a top-20 pick, so, on average, that slots him around 15th overall. Personally, I’m impressed enough by his game that I could see him going in the late top-10, somewhere between eighth and tenth overall. But either way, I think you’ll see him drafted in the top-15.
“Looking deeper into why Lekkerimäki is capable of beating goalies with ease, it begins with his patience. If Lekkerimäki doesn’t have an open lane, he waits to fire his shot or looks for a pass option. He is a natural goal scorer but his passing ability is noteworthy as well. Another part of Lekkerimäki’s goal-scoring excellence is his release time. No matter if he is net-front or shooting from a faceoff circle, he’s able to get a shot off with no hesitation.” -Alexa Potack, Dobber Prospects
“What Lekkerimäki really has going for him is a natural instinct for the creation and completion of scoring chances. He intrigues thanks to a wicked slingshot of a wrister, a zapping one-timer, and very slick mitts in tight quarters. Still nowhere near his man strength, he hasn’t needed to be to survive in the SHL this season. There are skating issues and he can naturally disappear, especially when stronger opponents are on the ice, but that’s hardly uncommon for a kid his age on a bottom-feeder.” -Chapin Landvogt, McKeen’s Hockey
“Driver of play with elite finishing ability.” -Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet
- Hockey IQ
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Defensive Awareness
If all goes according to plan for Lekkerimäki’s development, including that with the team who drafts him, there’s no reason he can’t be a goal-scoring top-six winger at the NHL level.
Risk 2/5, Reward 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8/10, Defense 5/10
Lekkerimäki’s most recent accomplishments include a bronze medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and a J20 SM Silver Medal, along with most goals (12) and best plus-minus (+15) in the J18 East Region league in 2020-21.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki Statistics
Latest News & Highlights
Alex Hobson is a writer and a radio producer for 610 CKTB. He has been writing about sports since 2015 and has been with The Hockey Writers since October of 2020. He covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, World Juniors, and the NHL Entry Draft, and is also part of the Sticks in the 6ix Podcast, presented by THW. He also makes weekly appearances on THW’s Maple Leafs Lounge Roundtable. For interview requests or any other inquiries, you can follow Alex’s social media pages listed at the bottom of his articles like this one.