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European Prospect Report: Joni Ikonen has a long road ahead

A weekly update on the Montreal Canadiens prospects playing in Europe.

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga (Finland)

While Ikonen notched an assist with a good play in the last game of the week against Jukurit, he is still struggling with his graduation to the pro ranks. Prospect analyst Mitch Brown had an interesting take on the Montreal Canadiens second-round selection, in a thread starting with this tweet:

Ikonen’s development has stagnated after the move to Liiga and the professional ranks, and that is evident in his point production. Of course, playing for KalPa, one of the worst teams in the league, doesn’t help his performance.

His offensive output isn’t just low, it’s well below the mark expected of a player with a future in the NHL. Comparing him to other Finnish prospects, even with the assist against Jukurit, Ikonen is far behind players that have reached the NHL, currently sitting at 0.11 points per game in the season after his draft year. Mitch Brown points out that the lowest pace of a player at the same age who went on to make the NHL was the 0.47 points-per-game average of Nashville’s Miikka Salomäki.

While his time on ice has increased, as well as his shot frequency, Ikonen hasn’t really managed to turn that into points. While the assist is a good start, and there is a lot of hockey left to play, KalPa continues to struggle and is still stuck at the bottom of the table, and that in itself might limit his development. Ikonen himself is positioned at the bottom of KalPa’s scoring list, with his two points slotting him in 18th place.

Lukas Vejdemo, Djurgården, SHL (Sweden)

The prospect who is thriving is Lukas Vejdemo. His overall play has improved drastically, and while he isn’t getting any power-play time, he is getting points on special teams anyway.

In Saturday’s game versus Skellefteå, Vejdemo stole the puck on the penalty kill and forced it out of the zone on Djurgården’s game-winning goal.

In 14 games this season, Vejdemo has already reached the point total he had in 48 games last year. He has 34 games to get another nine points and have his best pro season of his young career.

He sits fourth on Djurgården’s internal scoring list. While many may have counted out the centre after last season, Vejdemo seems to be wanting to prove these people wrong.

Arvid Henrikson, Örebro U-20, SuperElite South, (Sweden)

Three games played, but no points for Henrikson in the Swedish U20 series. Örebro has started the season very well and is one of the surprises of the SHL season thus far, so it will be difficult for Henrikson to beak into the team at the moment.

Max Friberg, Frölunda, SHL (Sweden)

It was an up-and-down week for Frölunda, but Friberg stood tall. He managed to notch another assist, and is now fifth on the team in scoring.

He isn’t as concerned about his point production nor his lack of goals, but rather more worried about the struggles Frölunda has had. The team next heads to Liberec for the first game of the Champions Hockey League playoffs that will be contested on Tuesday.