The Swedish Hockey League (SHL), or as many people still remember it as Elitserien, is now two games into their championship series between the #1 seed Skellefteå AIK and #2 seed Frölunda HC. Through game two, the best-of-7 series is tied at one.
The SHL has caught the eyes of many of the Montreal Canadiens faithful this season, especially with Habs prospect Arturri Lehkonen (Frölunda HC) and Lukas Vejdemo (Djurgårdens IF) exceeding expectations. Vejdemo, a very late third round pick (2015) out of Stockholm, Sweden recorded 17 points in 52 games this year in Sweden’s highest level ice hockey league. Lehkonen on the other hand, a late 2nd round pick (2013) out of Piikkiö, Finland, posted 33 points in 49 regular season games where he was often seen playing third line LW.
Lehkonen’s story doesn’t nearly end there though. Through 13 games in the 2016 SHL Playoffs, he currently leads the league in not only goals, but points as well. With Frölunda still battling for 2015-16 supremacy in the championship, Lehkonen has tallied 8 goals and 6 assists for 14 points. Although his size is on the smaller end of the professional hockey scale at 5’11” and 176lbs, that certainly does not stop him from playing a physical game. With 24 hits dished out, he ranks 10th in the league so far in the playoffs with hits. Primarily clean ones at that, only receiving 2 minutes in penalties thus far.
Lehkonen has been taking advantage of every shift opportunity he has had. If you want to even go as far as look at the top 20 players in points so far in the playoffs, his average of 16 minutes and 19 seconds of time on ice per game ranks 19th among those 20th players. Meanwhile, he ranks:
Goals: 1st (8)
Assists: T-12th (6)
Points: 1st (14)
Hits: 10th (24)
Shots: 3rd (41)
The on paper statistics and his visual on ice performance shows that he goes out onto the ice every shift and works his tail off, and clearly has something to show for it.
Lehkonen has one year left on his contract in Frölunda, with it ending at the conclusion of the 2016-17 SHL season. So it will be interesting to see how Lehkonen performs in training camp at the end of the summer, and what the Canadiens organization will choose to do with the Habs prospect in time for the 2016-17 season.