Habs Have a Jewel in Lehkonen

LehkonenJewel

When Artturi Lehkonen was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2nd round (55th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, few had any idea who Trevor Timmins had picked and even less the type of player he was or would become… except those in scouting in the hockey world. Average size, rather light weight, he was a diamond in the ruff, one that few fans or media members had even heard of in North America.

When he signed his first professional contract with the Canadiens this past May and it was announced that he would be at the team’s rookie camp and main training camp last Fall, people started taking notice. In his second year in Sweden last year, he played 49 games in the SHL, tallying 16 goals and 17 assists in the regular season plus a league-best 11 goals and eight assists in 16 games in postseason’s play, en route to claiming the title. His playoffs’ performance was noticed, particularly because he broke Daniel Alfredsson‘s record of 18 points in 14 games.

That performance and his overall play left little doubt in his head coach’s mind on whether or not he would see his young star player back on the team.

“We won’t see Lehkonen again, at least not from what I can see. He’s way too good.” ~ Roger Ronnberg

Heading to rookie camp, his goal was to not go back to Sweden even though he still had one year remaining on his Frolunda contract, which contained an out clause if he earned an NHL job.

Former Canadiens’ captain Saku Koivu said, last summer, that he believed Lehkonen was ready to earn a spot in the Montreal lineup, quotes that didn’t go unnoticed by the young Finish forward.

“That’s a huge compliment from one of the greatest captains of the Montreal Canadiens”

Lehkonen liked the Philadelphia Flyers when he grew up, because he liked Kimmo Timonen and because of their bright jerseys.

 

Diamond in the ruff turns into jewel

It didn’t take long for Lehkonen to earn the respect of his teammates, but also the coaching staff’s. His skills’ set, his play in all three zones and his maturity beyond his young age ensured that he was a lock to be on the team after training camp.

His 14 goals place him sixth in team scoring, only two goals from Alex Galchenyuk and ahead of Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec. Considering that he averages just under 14 minutes of ice time per game and that he spends little time on the power play, this is more than respectable for a 21 year old rookie.

He has made many friends in the Canadiens’ dressing room, but maybe none bigger than current linemate Andrew Shaw.

“He’s fun to be around. He’s a kid having fun… he’s enjoying life. He kind of reminds me of how I play. He plays physical, he goes to those dirty areas, he competes, he goes to the net, and I like that in a player. I try to help him out, how he can better his game, what he needs to keep working on, what he needs to keep doing to be successful in the league. You can joke around with him. You can bug him and make fun of him and it doesn’t get to him and he dishes it right back. It’s the kind of thing I really like.” ~ Andrew Shaw.

Lehkonen’s play has been improving all season as he is getting used to the smaller ice surface and to the speed of the game in the NHL. He is getting his scoring chances while displaying great confidence with the puck. He rarely makes the wrong decision and more often than not, he is in the right place on the defensive side of the puck.

With his skills and high hockey IQ, Habs’ fans will learn to love this player as he bulks up and gains in confidence and keeps his development. The future is very bright for this young man and flying under the radar, as much as it is humanly possible playing in the limelight of Montreal, will do him much good.

 

 


Artturi Lehkonen
Left Wing
Born Jul 4 1995  -- Piikkio, Finland 
Height 5.11 -- Weight 163 -- Shoots L


Selected by Montreal Canadiens round 2 #55 overall 2013 NHL Entry Draft

                                            --- Regular Season ---  ---- Playoffs ----
Season   Team                        Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM  GP   G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2011-12  TPS Turku                   SM-li  18    2    2    4    8   2   0   0   0   0
2012-13  KalPa Kuopio                SM-li  45   14   16   30   12   4   2   1   3   2
2013-14  KalPa Kuopio                SM-li  33    7   13   20    4  --  --  --  --  --
2014-15  Frolunda HC                 SweHL  47    8    8   16   12  13   3   3   6   0
2015-16  Frolunda HC                 SweHL  49   16   17   33   12  16  11   8  19   4
2016-17  Montreal Canadiens          NHL    69   14    8   22    8
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         NHL Totals                         69   14    8   22    8

Current statistics as of 2017-04-02

 

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