2022 NHL Draft: The case for San Jose Sharks to select Jonathan Lekkerimaki

With the NHL draft fast approaching, the San Jose Sharks narrowly fall out of the top 10 in the first round, picking 11th overall. Before drafting, we profile a handful of players that should be available and make the case for the team to draft them…or go the other way.

Jonathan Lekkerimaki, F — Djurgardens IF

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 172 pounds.
Age at draft: 17
shoots: Right
Season 2021-2022 (Djurgardens IF J20): 26GP, 20G, 15A, 1.35PPG
Season 2021-2022 (Djurgardens): 26GP, 7G, 2A, 0.35PPG

THE SCOUTING REPORTS

What makes Lekkerimäki dynamic is his ability to fire off a quick shot on the charge and gain altitude on the shot. His shot from the rush is pretty good, but he needs to address his accuracy. Lekkerimäki seems very inconsistent with his off-rush accuracy. Even if that sounds negative, you shouldn’t take it that way. The fact that he’s able to net pucks from the rush and hit corners was a joy.

— Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting

His calling card is his generation of offensive options and numbers. He excels at scoring goals from all positions, usually with powerful one-timers or vicious shots from the wrist, while continually fielding teammates. He can either carry the puck or just find an empty spot in the offensive zone. Either way, once the puck’s there, he’s a safe bet with the gloves he’s got. Whether it’s stick handling, shooting, or passing, he’s doing something productive.

— McKeen’s (Paywall)

Byron Bader’s Star and NHLer Probability by Jonathan Lekkerimäki

THE ACTION AGAINST

Designing a player for a specific ability can be dangerous. In this case, it’s Lekkerimaki’s shot. A “one trick pony” is dangerous because if that pony isn’t elite at that one trick, it can be easy to knock out. Patrick Laine is an absolute elite sniper but had issues with defense that caused problems between him and his trainers. There’s a breaking point for every player and if they don’t have enough attacking power to counteract the negative effects on defense, the coach won’t use it. This can be seen all the time in young players. That’s not to say that Lekkerimaki is a bad player defensively, but it will be something he needs to work on as he continues to develop.

If Lekkerimaki’s shot doesn’t translate as well as the Sharks (or whoever draws him), what other impact can he make?

Instead of an Impact player in 11th overall, it would be like getting a different version of Kevin Labanc. This isn’t a blow to Kevin Labanc, but since drafting capital is being invested in a player who is so high in the draft, an organization would hope for a player with more influence than Kevin Labanc. There are many Kevin Labanc truthers out there who will say: Check out the analytics! He drives play! But eventually Labanc (and players like him) get paid to put the puck in the net.

17-year-old Lekkermaki also missed the end of last season due to mononucleosis. While this shouldn’t affect his draft status, it’s worth keeping an eye on if he continues to have any lingering effects from the notoriously hard-to-beat condition.

THE CASE FOR

Jonathan Lekkerimaki has an ability that translates to the NHL today. As a 17-year-old, his shot is already as close to NHL caliber as you’ll find in this draft. Aside from Daniil Gushchin, the Sharks don’t have a player like this in their roster, someone who has the potential to pull off a 40-goal season as a Certified Sniper.

It is difficult to find players with elite skills – Lekkerimaki has one and it is one of the most important. The Sharks have struggled to score since their last deep playoff run.

Goals per game, last 3 seasons

  • 2019-20: 2.6, 27th (NHL average: 3.02)
  • 2020-21: 2.6, 26th (NHL average: 2.94)
  • 2021-22: 2.6, 28th (NHL average: 3.14)

San Jose reeks of scoring goals and Lekkerimaki can help in that department. He was already playing against men in the SHL at the age of 17 and scored 7 goals in 26 games.

If you’re trying to find #FindEklundAFriend and build the next core around William Eklund, what better player to play alongside Eklund than Lekkerimaki? The couple played together at Djurgardens and were known to feed each other, as shown here:

In the coming season, Lekkerimaki will play against professional players in HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second tier men’s league. Between Lekkerimaki, Noah Ostlund, Liam Ohgren and Calle Odelius, Djurgardens are expected to attempt to fight their way back from relegation and back into the SHL. This is the perfect time for Lekkerimaki to prove he’s not just a sniper, but can lead a team to the top.

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