Vancouver Canucks prospects Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Lekkerimaki both tallied points in Team Sweden’s Monday annihilation of Team Austria on Day one of the World Junior Championship in Halifax. The Swedes won 11-0 in their opening effort in Group A play.
Defenceman Pettersson, the Canucks 2022 3rd-round NHL Draft pick at 80th-overall, chipped in an assist along the way. Lekkerimaki, Vancouver’s 1st-round pick this past summer at 15th-overall, ripped home the Swede’s 6th goal and assisted on their ninth tally.
Lekkerimaki glided into the left wing circle and let go of a snapper through traffic that went post-and-in for an even strength goal.
The highly touted sniper is playing in the Swedish Hockey League, the country’s top circuit, for Djurgardens IF in Stockholm. Along with a brief upper body injury, Lekkerimaki is off to a slow start this season, a goal and four assists in twenty games, compared to his steadier pace as a 17-year-old in the top league last season with seven goals and two assists in 26 games.
Keep in mind, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound, right-shot winger is playing against full-grown men as an 18-year-old whose birthday was in July.
Lekkerimaki played in the Covid-delayed 2022 WJC tourney in August as Sweden’s twelfth forward and in very limited ice time helped with three assists over seven games.
The Canucks hope a strong performance at 2023 version of the World Juniors could kickstart the second half of his season. The SHL starts a month earlier than the NHL and the regular season ends in March.
Pettersson, the exact namesake of the Vancouver Canucks leading scorer, has turned in a solid season thus far along the blue line for Orebro HK in the SHL. Points aren’t an concern at the moment, he has just two assists; the Canucks are enjoying his overall play and physical development. Pettersson, 6-foot-2 and 190-pounds will turn 19 on February 16th.
“Petey two-point-oh’ as some referred to him at the Canucks summer camp, suffered a mild knee sprain during the Development Camp and missed some of the action. He fully recovered soon after.
Things should get a bit tougher for both players as the Swedes take on Germany on Tuesday at 10:30 am pacific time.