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European Prospect Report: Small steps forward for Joni Ikonen

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The Habs prospect has been improving

NHL: JUL 04 Canadiens Development Camp Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

With another assist this week, Joni Ikonen climbs to 15th place in scoring among KalPa players. While it is encouraging that Ikonen gets another assist, he is still lagging behind because of the slow start of the season. With eight points (3G+5A) so far in Liiga play this season, it is easy to be a bit weary of the development of the prospect that many thought was a steal in the draft last summer.

Looking at the assist on Alexandre Texier’s goal, Ikonen grabs the puck deep in his own zone and drives it up the whole length of the ice, before dropping the puck to Texier for a nice goal. It is difficult to judge from the feed, but one has to wonder if Ikonen couldn’t have finished the play off himself. And if he could have, is it down to a lack of confidence that makes him pass the puck in the situation instead?

Ikonen’s ice time dropped a bit during the week, where in one game he played less than nine minutes. Still, his average over the season is around 12 minutes. With KalPa resting in the wild card slot at the moment it is interesting to see if he can shoulder the same time and responsibility down the stretch.

The comparison between Joni Ikonen (drafted at 58) and Alexandre Texier (drafted at 45) continues with both players notching up points this week as they helped each other out. With Texier having a role higher up in the line up as well as more playtime it isn’t surprising that Texier is having a substantial amount of points more than Ikonen. It remains to be seen if Ikonen can catch up to the French talent over the remainder of the season.

Lukas Vejdemo, Djurgården, SHL, Sweden

Coach Robert Ohlsson continiues to play Vejdemo at centre for the moment, but this week Vejdemo was held to a little over 13 minutes TOI over two games, his lowest for a long time. Djurgården got their World Junior Championship players back and I assume Ohlsson took the chance to rest Vejdemo a bit before the tough period during the Olympic Games, just a few weeks away.

This week’s stat line for Vejdemo is not something to highlight, one shot on goal with minimum time on the ice with a blowout loss this weekend.

Scott Wheeler of the Athletic ranked the Montreal Canadien prospects and Ikonen and Vejdemo were just a few spots apart while spread out over two tiers. Wheeler cautiously agrees with me that Vejdemo will make a career in North America due to his versatility and size, but to expect him to be a star is too much. Vejdemo should make it in to a third line centre thanks to his hockey IQ.

Arvid Henrikson, Örebro U20, SuperElite, Sweden

No games for Henrikson this week, and it seems to be a very disappointing season for Henrikson at the moment. He has not forced himself into the Örebro line up in SHL, and at least one other young defender seems to have jumped him in the depth chart, Lukas Pilö. Pilö has impressed in the few games he has played with the SHL team and it will be interesting to see how his skills are appreciated leading up to the entry draft this summer.

Max Friberg, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden

The dynamo Friberg got an assist this week, and his time on the ice increased compared to last week’s limited time. Frölunda is still struggling and lost Lias Andersson to New York Rangers this week. It should bode well for Friberg as there was a bit of a log jam of potential forwards on the Frölunda roster.