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Getting to know 2015 third-round pick Lukas Vejdemo

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The Canadiens have made their second pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. What skills will Lukas Vejdemo bring to the organization?

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The Montreal Canadiens selected Lukas Vejdemo with the 87th pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

The Swedish centre put up the best numbers of his junior career in 2014-15 with Djurgården J20 of the Swedish SuperElit league.  His 23 goals and 25 assists were both career highs for the second-year-eligible 19-year-old, who added a further four goals and two assists in seven playoff games for the team.  Vejdemo also saw action in three games for the men's Djurgården team of the Swedish Hockey League.

Vejdemo finished second on his junior team in scoring, and first in points per game with his 48 points in an injury-shortened 34-game season, a stat-line that earned him the award of MVP of the league.  His 51 penalty minutes placed him second on the team in that category.

Despite the offensive stats in junior, Vejdemo projects more as a two-way, third-line player who can be tenacious in puck pursuit but is currently lacking the physicality to win puck battles at the professional level.  According to Canadiens Director of Amateur Scouting Trevor Timmins, Vejdemo's closest NHL comparable is Columbus Blue Jackets' rookie Alexander Wennberg (who also played his junior career with Djurgården).

Scouting Reports

Hockey Prospect
This Swedish center took a significant step forward in his development this past season. Passed over in last year draft after playing at the U18 level, this year he was probably the MVP of the U20 SuperElit. Vedejmo has been effective in pretty much every area of the game and it will be interesting to see what kind of player he will be able to become at the senior level after an adaption period. He has good puck control and has some power to his shot, but he is not overly skilled and his projection from an offensive standpoint is far from a safe one. However, he has a few things going for him along with his size.
He is no stranger to the net, works hard, doesn’t quit on the play and doesn’t mind going into the corners to dig the puck to create opportunities. His strong two-way all around game makes him a candidate to develop into a 3rd liner that can bring some secondary scoring. He is not a flawless skater, his stride seems to have room for improvement, yet he can generate surprising power and use his skating as an asset, for example when chasing the puck. He can stickhandle through traffic, but he can be at fault for trying to do too much, sometimes taking too long shifts. Should further develop his physical
Future Considerations
Lukas has grown a lot over the last one to two years, from being average-­‐sized at best to now a strong and hardworking two-­‐way pivot. He’s got above average speed but lacks power and extension in his stride. Has the balance that allows him to be effective when playing in traffic when contact is involved. He can also create a little separation based on his top speed at this level. Speed is solid overall, maybe his agility could be a little better and he could certainly improve his first step. He’s got decent hands, passing and playmaking skills. His two-­‐way play is a strength as well.
He is able to read the play around him and adapt at both ends of the rink. Good hockey sense. Covers for teammates and drives deep into his own zone to stymie opponents’ offensive chances. Both wrist shot and slapshot seem quite heavy, but he does not have the positional instincts of a natural goal scorer. Strong along the boards. Can be pretty physical, battling for pucks and space, even though he is not a tough guy. His wrist shot seems hard, but unfortunately, not always accurate. Has NHL upside as a potential top nine forward, or at worst case, a bottom line two-­‐way threat.

Thoughts

With the low draft rankings potentially due to his injury concerns, the Canadiens continue a recent trend of drafting players (like Artturi Lehkonen and Charles Hudon) who have been looked over because of health concerns.  The team will hope that they will have a steal of a prospect when those health concerns are (hopefully) dealt with.

Vejdemo complements the small, skilled forwards the Canadiens have been taking in lower round in recent years to give them a well-rounded group of prospects in the system.