Canucks' top pick Lekkerimaki aims to put adversity behind him to grow as a player

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VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks' top draft pick from 2022 says he's looking to develop and put last season's illness and injury struggles behind him.

Forward Jonathan Lekkerimaki signed an entry-level three-year deal with the Canucks over the weekend.

The Canucks drafted Lekkerimaki, who plays right wing, 15th overall in the first round of the 2022 NHL entry draft.

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The Swedish forward suffered a season-ending foot injury in February but returned to help Djurgardens IF reach Game 7 of the HockeyAllsvenskan championship series.

He says the injury forced him to make his game simpler and to not overthink his play, leading to five goals and 10 assists in 15 playoff games in Sweden’s second-division pro league — compared to just nine points in 29 games of the regular season.

Lekkerimaki says he expects to spend at least next season playing in Sweden to further develop as a player before making the move to North America.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2023.

The Canadian Press