Montreal has built some solid depth on the wings with the addition of some exciting young talent recently. Artturi Lehkonen is one of these standouts with great potential to be a top-six winger for the club moving forward. He brings strong offensive skills and has the talent to put together a breakout sophomore season, but the aforementioned depth may be just the thing that holds him back for now.
Despite a tremendous performance in the SHL playoffs for Frolunda in 2015-16 Lehkonen was under the radar entering the 2016-17 campaign, but he quickly became someone for management and fans alike to be excited about.
Lehkonen showcased strong offensive instincts and a fantastic shot thought the regular season, potting 18 goals and then kept it up as one of Montreal’s best forwards in the playoffs which earned him a boost in ice time. His defensively responsible play and tenacity made him a favourite of both Michel Therrien and in particular Claude Julien, earning himself both power play and shorthanded ice time.
Season Stats: 73 GP, 18 goals, 10 assists, 28 points, -1 rating, 8 PIMS, 2 PPG, 1 SHG, 3 GWG, 158 shots, 13:52 TOI
Playoff Stats: 6 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 1 PPG, 0 SHG, 0 GWG, 19 shots, 15:33 TOI
As this was Lehkonen’s rookie season, his career averages are his production from last year.
Lehkonen is a key member of the young core of forwards that includes Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, and Phillip Danault and has a major role in the franchise for the future. For now, the depth at left wing, with Max Pacioretty and Drouin likely ahead of him, means he will have to battle for ice time. The recent news that Drouin will likely get a shot at centre could give Lehkonen’s fantasy prospects a major boost as that would allow him to slide up the depth chart. He will almost certainly see time on the powerplay and shorthanded, and if the stars align he could see plenty of top-six minutes as well.
There is a strong possibility that Lehkonen builds on his solid rookie year and ups his scoring totals this season. While a major breakout may not be in the cards due to Montreal’s depth on the wings, he is a good bet to score 20 goals and improve his overall point total.
If everything was to go right for Lehkonen there is the chance that he could post even more impressive numbers, but the safe bet is that he continues to improve but posts only a modest increase in points. In a regular league, he’s more of a late-round pick as a result but one with some sleeper upside if he lands a top-six role. That said, if you play in a keeper league Lehkonen is definitely one to watch for, given his goal scoring prowess and potential for bigger things in the future.