Small Lehkonen has big start
Despite his small stature, Finnish sensation Artturi Lehkonen is hard to miss.
The diminutive sniper has burst onto the SM-liiga scene this year, scoring three goals and eight points in his first seven games with KalPa and currently wears the honorary Golden Helmet as the team’s leading scorer.
The 17-year-old Lehkonen is playing in his second SM-liiga season, following a short 18 game stint with TPS at the tail end of last season. Despite standing at a diminutive five-foot-10 and weighing in at 152-pounds, most of Lekhonen’s goals come from driving hard to the net and getting in his nose dirty. He does, however, also posses a world class shot and has fantastic hands, allowing him to weave in and out of traffic and into open ice where he can effectively use his shot.
Lehkonen uses his elite hockey sense and fearlessness to win puck battles in the corners and find soft spots in and around the net. While he has most of his impact in the offensive zone, Lehkonen doesn’t neglect his defensive responsibilities.
This strong two-way play has Future Considerations European scout Ville Meuronen impressed.
“Lehkonen is a different kind of goal scorer,” Meuronen said. “He can not only score goals with his crisp, accurate shot, but he is also an effective fore- and backchecker. Despite being raw physically he can win physical battles due to his fearlessness and smarts. He is a very smart defensive player and can be creative anticipating the play particularly in the neutral zone.”
Lehkonen’s early season burst shouldn’t come as a surprise.
He impressed scouts this summer with his performance at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament while playing for Finland. The dynamic forward was an assistant captain on the club and scored seven goals in as many games while showing off his feistiness.
Unfortunately, Lehkonen’s early season success has hit a snag after suffering a mild concussion in a SM-liiga game. The injury is not considered to be serious though and he should be back in the line-up shortly.
And if he’s able to do just that, Lehkonen will be impossible to miss at the 2013 NHL Draft.
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