Canucks prospect Jonathan Lekkerimaki back in Abbotsford for playoffs

The 2022 NHL Draft first rounder is back with the AHL Canucks after he didn’t make Swedish team for world championships

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The Vancouver Canucks assigned forward Jonathan Lekkerimaki to the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks on Wednesday after the 19-year-old missed out on Sweden’s roster for the world championships.

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The Ontario Reign have a 2-0 lead on Abbotsford in the best-of-five Pacific Division semifinals going in Game 3 tonight at the Abbotsford Centre. Game 4, if necessary, would be Friday in Abbotsford, with Game 5 there on Sunday, if required.

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Lekkerimaki was the Canucks’ 2022 NHL Draft first-round pick, selected No. 15 overall. After he finished his Swedish Hockey League season with Orebro HC, he joined Abbotsford, with the plan being that he would head back to Sweden to vie for a spot on their world championship team. He got into six regular season games with the AHL’s Canucks, notching a goal and an assist in that span.

Lekkerimaki was named to Sweden’s preliminary roster on April 26, but the Swedes added L.A. Kings forwards Adrian Kempe and Carl Grundstrom, and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Pontus Holmberg, after their teams lost in the first round of the playoffs.

The Swedes also picked up defenceman Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The worlds get going Friday in Czechia, with Prague and Ostrava sharing host city duties.

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Lekkerimaki was named most valuable player of the world juniors in Gothenburg, Sweden, this season after tying for the tournament lead in goals (seven) and tying for fourth in points (10) in seven games played. The Swedes took silver, losing 6-2 to the Americans in the final.

Lekkerimaki had 19 goals and 31 points in 46 games with Orebro. He was their leading scorer and their youngest regular.

Abbotsford (40-25-5-2) finished fifth in the AHL’s Pacific Division, while Ontario was third (42-23-2-4). Abbotsford beat the fourth-place Colorado Eagles (40-25-5-2) in three games in the best-of-three Pacific Division first round. Colorado was the higher seed thanks to more regulation wins.

Ontario, who are a Los Angeles Kings farm club, won the first two games of this series at home, recording a 3-1 decision in Game 1 and a 4-0 triumph in Game 2. Former Canucks forward prospect Tyler Madden leads them in scoring in the playoffs so far with four goals and five points in four games. They also feature former Canucks defenceman Kevin Connauton.

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