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European Prospect Report: Lukas Vejdemo is a beacon of light

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A weekly report on the Montreal Canadiens prospects playing overseas.

Tommy Holl

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga (Finland)

Joni Ikonen was not present for the last game of the week for KalPa against Tappara. While we have no news why he was left out, an educated guess is that he was already meeting up with the Finnish U20 National Team for the trip to Russia and the Four Nations tournament taking place there next week.

The tournament will be a very important showcase for the Finnish playmaker. While Ikonen has struggled against men in a pro league, many remember his success in last season’s U18 tournament, and he needs to show he still has those skills when playing against players his own age.

The only game Ikonen played this week was against Joonas Nättinen’s JYP, a game KalPa won in the shootout. Ikonen was plus-one, but heartening is that his time on ice was almost 13 minutes, and it seems that he is finally getting the playing time he needs for a positive development.

KalPa is still marooned in the relegation zone, six points behind a surging HIFK. Miro Heiskanen is showing why he was taken third overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, with 10 points (6G, 4A) in 10 games for HIFK.

Lukas Vejdemo, Djurgården, SHL (Sweden)

I cannot stress this enough: the most exciting Canadiens prospect on this side of the Atlantic is currently Lukas Vejdemo. He had yet another big week, opening the scoring at a sold out Håvet just 42 seconds into the game.

The confidence Vejdemo plays with and the trust of Coach Ohlsson are feeding of each other, and the prospect is reaping the rewards of a slow but steady progress over the last few seasons.

Vejdemo drives the play, and has found a place in front of the net where his weakness — his shot — is less of an issue. Tip-ins and snapshots seems to be Vejdemo’s forte at the moment.

An encouraging sign is that when Djurgården trailed and pulled the goalkeeper in the second game of the back-to-back meeting with Färjestad, Vejdemo was on the ice. He was out for an empty-net goal against, but was sent right back out, and got an assist on the goal that drew Djurgården within one again.

He still doesn’t get time on the power play, but it is a great sign that coach Ohlsson is gradually increasing his responsibilities.

With a 0.63 points-per-game average and the added confidence in himself, Vejdemo currently sits third on Djurgården’s internal scoring list, and 29th overall in the SHL. For a young defensive centreman that many had counted out after last season, this should be a reminder that Vejdemo should not be overlooked.

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

Four games this week, but still not a lot of points on the board from the defender. The one positive is that the +1 in the plus-minus column (even if it is a poor stat in many ways) at least shows that he has been doing okay defensively.

Still, the big defender needs to start to produce a bit more offensively in order to show that he is on the right track to develop into more than a one-dimensional player.

Max Friberg, Frölunda, SHL (Sweden)

Friberg works his heart out during every shift. His competition level has never been the problem. The problem is that right now Frölunda is struggling. Coach Rönnberg has relied on two top-heavy lines, but are now working the roster to have more balanced scoring up and down the lineup.

A quick mention of Frölunda’s two new juniors, Jesper Emanuelsson and Oliwer Fjellström, who have both looked sharp on the team so far.