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‘After a couple of difficult seasons a fresh start isn’t so bad’: Joni Ikonen signs with Ilves in Liiga

The injury-plagued forward will look to bounce back in a new spot.

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

Montreal Canadiens prospect Joni Ikonen has signed a two-year contract with Finnish team Ilves in Liiga.

After Ikonen’s contract with KalPa came to an end and after a couple of difficult years in Eastern Finland due to injuries, it was more or less accepted that he would change teams. Ilves finished fourth in this year’s regular season, and has an interesting team that was backstopped by Anaheim Ducks prospect Lukáš Dostál this past season and will look to build on the season to challenge for an even better finish next year.

When I spoke with Joni Ikonen, he was excited to have gotten a new team sorted quite early and he was really looking forward to getting back to competitive action

“Ilves are a really good team, and also really good at developing players. It just felt like the right it for me at this stage of my career,” Ikonen said. The upcoming season is a really important season for the Canadiens second-round pick in 2017. He has missed almost two full seasons due to a knee and then a hamstring injury. “After a couple of difficult seasons a ‘fresh’ start isn’t so bad,” he said.

“I am really excited to get back and play some hockey.”

Ikonen has focused on his rehab and sat out even the last few games of the season in order to get into next season fully healed.

“The body feels really good and strong now, I still have some work to do in order to get back into playing shape, but the progress has been as good as I could have hoped for. I have been on the the ice for sometime already, and I am doing some progress there too, but there is still plenty of time for me to get ready for next season.”

The two-year contract should hold a NHL clause and it shouldn’t be a problem for the Montreal Canadiens to sign him if Ikonen has the breakout season that he was set to have last season before his injury. Montreal holds his rights until June 1, 2021.