For Artturi Lehkonen, the sophomore slump was real. In his second NHL season with the Montreal Canadiens, Lehkonen saw his numbers slightly drop. After putting up 18 goals in his rookie campaign, Lehkonen only scored 12 goals this season. He also scored seven fewer points then he did the previous year while playing seven fewer games. Not a big decrease, but a decrease nonetheless.
However, there is no need to panic. While Lehkonen did not provide a ton of offence, he did play well defensively and still hit double digits in goals. He proved that he can be relied on the move up and down the lineup as needed. Lehkonen is the Habs Mr. Versatility.
Since making the Habs roster at the beginning of the 2016-17 NHL season, Artturi Lehkonen has spent time on all four lines, moving up and down as needed. A proven goal scorer in the Swedish Elite League, Lehkonen also proved he has the defensive abilities to be able to play a shutdown role if called upon. This provides some much-needed depth on the wing for the Habs, as they can trust Lehkonen in a shutdown role but he can also provide the offence there as well. This gives the Habs three potential scoring lines, which is needed in today’s NHL.
Lehkonen offensively is a proven goal scorer. In his final year in the Swedish Elite League, Lehkonen scored 16 goals and 33 points in 49 games. More impressively, Lehkonen broke an SHL playoff scoring record previously held by longtime Ottawa Senators Captain Daniel Alfredsson by scoring 19 points in 16 games. 11 of those points were goals.
While Lehkonen is not the greatest skater, he does possess a great set of hands allowing him to dangle defenders and beat them one on one. Lehkonen is able to find the open areas to get himself in position for dangerous scoring chances. He has a lightning fast release making it difficult for goalies to stop him, especially on one-timers. He’s not afraid to go into the dirty areas and has the ability to score from anywhere on the ice.
Defensively, Lehkonen is one of the most responsible Habs forwards. He rarely gets caught out of position and is always back supporting his defence and goaltender. Lehkonen is also able to read plays extremely well. This allows him to get into the lanes and intercept passes so he can spark the offence going the other way. This makes him a very dangerous player to play against.
Lehkonen’s Role Next Season
Next season, Artturi Lehkonen will most likely slot into the third line, next to Phillip Danault and Andrew Shaw. With the scoring depth the Habs have on the wing, it allows them to move Lehkonen down into a more defensive role. Having the ability to find the back of the net like Lehkonen does gives the Habs a ton of options and allows them to create three legitimate scoring lines. If it’s not working out and the Habs need a shakeup, Lehkonen’s versatility allows him to be able to move up the lineup as he has the ability to score goals. He truly is what people refer to as a 200 foot player.
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