The Vancouver Canucks and 2022 first-round selection Jonathan Lekkermaki agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract on Saturday.
Canucks GM Patrick Allvin, who drafted Lekkerimaki with the 15th overall selection during last year’s draft, was pleased with the prospect’s development throughout the season. “With each challenge he faced, he found a way to learn and grow,” Allvin said of Lekkerimaki.
The 18-year-old rebounded from a pedestrian, injury-hit season during which he scored just 3 goals and 9 points in 27 games in Sweden’s second tier with an eruption in the playoffs. In 15 postseason contests for Djurgardens, Lekkerimaki scored 5 goals and 15 points as his team finished runners-up.
Lekkerimaki’s playoff heroics will reassure the Canucks about his offensive potential, which was the basis of his appeal as a draft prospect.
Regardless of his new contract, Lekkerimaki will probably not stay with the Canucks beyond their development camp this summer. Because of his age, he cannot play with the AHL Abbotsford Canucks in 2023-2024 and will likely return to Sweden for another season.
Allvin’s Canucks have a crucial first entire season with coach Rick Tocchet ahead of them. Star Elias Petersson is out of contract next summer, and with money tied up in veterans like JT Miller and Tyler Myers, Allvin will need to get creative to keep him in Vancouver.
Allvin’s deadline acquisition of defenseman Filip Hronek showed that he is not interested in a rebuild and will spend the offseason trying to build a contender around Petersson and Quinn Hughes. The GM will hope Lekkerimaki can help the team’s Stanley Cup outlook in the coming seasons.