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Canadiens Showing Interest In Another Top Prospect At NHL Combine

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The Montreal Canadiens are doing their homework on who to take 1st overall, but it doesn’t seem to be their only focus during the NHL Combine.

On top of the major names ranked at the top of the 2022 NHL Draft like Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley, it appears the Montreal Canadiens also have a noted interest in another high-profile prospect. According to TVA Sports‘ Anthony Martineau, the Montreal Canadiens took top Swedish prospect Jonathan Lekkerimäkii out for supper this week, a sign that they wanted more time with the goal-scoring winger.

“When it comes to other players the Montreal Canadiens have interest in, there’s Jonathan Lekkerimäki,” said Martineau when pointing to other players the Canadiens have taken a liking to. “He’s scored quite a few goals in Sweden and sees himself as the purest goal-scorer in the draft. He went for supper last night with the Montreal Canadiens and had a nice, big steak!”

Lekkerimäki is one of the best goal-scorers in this draft and took the Swedish J-20 league by storm this season, posting 20 goals and 15 assists for 35 points in 26 games. His exceptional performances at the U-20 level earned him some time with Djurgårdens’ main team in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), where he put up a very respectable seven goals and two assists for nine points in 26 games playing mostly in a bottom-six role. Lekkerimäki truly shined at the U-18 World Championships, where he led his team to a goal medal, all while leading the tournament in scoring with15 points in just six games.

Lekkerimäki plays a very interesting game, predicated on good puck protection and a strong nose for the net. He has one of the more impressive releases in this draft class and uses it to unleash shots from just about everywhere in the offensive zone. He generates offence by remaining constantly implicated in the play, rarely ever giving up or showing signs of fatigue. Most NHL Draft Rankings have him in the 7th to 15th range, which means that, if the Montreal Canadiens value him as highly as some sources seem to think, he could very well be a target the Canadiens could trade up to select.

“There’s a possibility, there’s always a possibility, to move up in a draft if a player you like is sliding and still available,” concluded Martineau when discussing the logic behind the Canadiens doing their due diligence on a player ranked outside their current range of selections.

The Montreal Canadiens have the firepower to move up in this draft, owning the 26th and 33rd overall selections, along with a plethora of other mid-round picks. Should Lekkerimäki be available in the teens, he would most certainly be a valuable trade-up option for the Canadiens, a team that has not moved up in the 1st round of an NHL Draft since 2010.

 

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@CrispPoutine

Trading up for another top prospect would be huge.

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