Vancouver Canucks 2022 1st-round NHL Draft pick Jonathan Lekkerimaki was named the most valuable player of the just concluded 2024 World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old winger and his Swedish teammates finished with the
Silver Medal, losing on home ice 6-2 to Team USA in the Gold Medal game on Friday.
Lekkerimaki finished tied for the tournament lead in goal scoring with seven, five of them coming on the power play. He added three assists for a total of ten points, good for the fourth most overall.
Two American players would have received strong consideration for the honour. Isaac Howard also finished with seven goals, adding two assists, and a plus-10 rating, while Cutter Gauthier finished 2nd in scoring with two goals, ten assists and a plus-9. Gauthier ended up earning “best forward” honours.
Czechia forward Jiri Kulich finished tied on top of the scoring leaderboard with Gauthier with six goals and six assists. The Czechs ended up winning the Bronze Medal on Friday with an 8-5 win over Finland.
Lekkerimaki stood out above the statistics, dominating physically at times and impressing with his imposing shooting ability. He’s in the first season of his three-year, entry-level deal with Vancouver, on loan to Orebro HK in the Swedish Hockey League. The teenager has 16 points in 24 games in the country’s top league.
The Canucks 3rd-round draft pick from that same summer, Elias Pettersson, finished with two assists in the tournament from the blueline, while fellow D-man Tom Willander, Vancouver’s 1st-rounder, 11th-overall from the 2023 draft, finished with a goal and two assists.
Pettersson plays in Sweden’s 2nd-tier pro league, while Willander skates with Boston University in the NCAA.
Of note, Axel Sandin Pellikka, the young man who became the 1st-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings acquired in the deal for Canucks defenceman Filip Hronek last March, won the Directorate’s award for the tournament’s best defender.
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