World Juniors Notebook: Lekkerimaki, Knies, Coronato & More
The World Juniors has hit a break as things prepare for rambunctious quarterfinal action on the world’s biggest prospect stage.
Our scouts have been following the tournament, both with in-person and video views, and have been filing dozens and dozens of reports for hockey fans to digest.
Here are a few hits on some of the tournament’s top prospects in our World Juniors notebook.
JONATHAN LEKKERIMAKI | RW | Sweden | August 14, 2022
Draft status: 1/15 (2022) | Vancouver Canucks
Scouting report by Joseph Aleong
Jonathan Lekkerimaki is a dangerous offensive-minded forward with agile skating and a powerful shot that he can use to score with from all areas of the offensive zone. His ability to fire the puck is his best weapon, showing a high shot rate and a heavy, fast release that allows him to score from distance with either a snapshot or a one-timed slap shot. He shows good awareness of timing his downhill attacks towards the net, creating passing options off the rush and finding open areas to jump into while working on in-zone offensive plays. Lekkerimaki has an accurate shot, using traffic as a screen to improve his scoring odds and consistently finding lanes to the net by changing his feet or angling his release. He has decent straight-line speed, generating plenty of acceleration and open ice speed with his smooth skating form — despite average foot-speed and stride power for a player on the smaller side. His lateral movements and agility are more impressive, using his puck skills to weave through traffic and generating plenty of controlled entries by beating defenders one-on-one. His puckhandling abilities lead to some creative set-ups in close range situations, but he doesn’t show much patience with the puck to cut back upon entering the zone, and will look to shoot instead of delaying to wait for better scoring chances. Lekkerimaki’s tenacity and reads off-puck are not as advanced, however, missing opportunities to disrupt the backcheck through the neutral zone and not offering much aggressiveness or physicality pursuing pucks low in his own defensive zone. Lekkerimaki needs to improve his anticipation and engagement level off-puck and work on being more patient under pressure to create more passing chances instead of carrying into turnovers. If he can improve his all-around game, his shot will give him a chance to contribute as a middle-six winger with some elite power play value at the NHL level.
BROCK FABER | D | TEAM USA | AUGUST 11, 2022
Draft status: 2/45 (2020) | Minnesota Wild
Scouting report by Austin Broad
Brock Faber, now in the Minnesota Wild organization after being by the Los Angeles Kings, is a two-way defenseman who does a lot of little things that might not always get noticed. His skating and defensive prowess really stand out. Faber maintains great gap control, using his mobility and his active stick to help negate chances off the rush. In his own zone he has excellent body positioning and IQ to consistently be in the right position to suppress any quality chances the opponents may generate. Faber isn’t a big producer offensively, but he has an impressive offensive toolbox. He has strong vision and passing ability that allow him to be an effective player in the transition game. In the offensive zone, he has a capable shot that can beat goalies when he gets the puck in space but is a better facilitator than he is a scoring threat. He isn’t the flashiest player but he’s so good in so many different areas and is a heavily relied upon player for Team USA. Faber can be a big part of Minnesota’s blue line going forward. The Wild have a big veteran presence on the back end, and getting a young, potential core piece in Faber was very crucial for their future.
MATTHEW KNIES | LW | Team USA | August 13, 2022
Draft status: 2/57 (2021) | Toronto Maple Leafs
Scouting report by Austin Broad
Matthew Knies is a power-forward who has a high compete level. He’s at his best when he has the puck in bottom half of the offensive zone. Knies is great out of the cycle. He knows how to use his body to protect the puck and has the patience to wait for teammates to get open in the prime scoring areas. His compete-level and strength allow him to have excellent success in loose puck battles. Knies can outmuscle any opponent on the ice and regain control of the puck easily for his team. His puck skills are good, not elite, but they are good enough for him to beat opposing players in one-on-one situations. He is a good playmaking threat, and has the shooting ability to beat goalies from the slot when given time and space to get a shot off. The only concern with Knies is his pace. He’s an okay skater but struggles to keep up in quicker sequences. If his skating flatlines, it may be a little more difficult for him to adjust to the professional game — so it will be an area to monitor with him going forward. Toronto has a solid prospect in Knies — he brings some elements to the table that their pipeline is missing. His physicality and offensive scoring ability should allow him to develop into a quality bottom-six scoring winger for the Leafs. I think his ceiling is a second-liner who plays in multiple situations, but that’s if everything works out perfectly in his development.
MATT CORONATO | LW | Team USA | August 9, 2022
Draft status: 1/13 (2021) | Calgary Flames
Scouting report by Donesh Mazloum
Matt Coronato will be an interesting case study to follow as he progresses in his hockey career. His physical tools certainly don’t scream future NHL star. He has a stiff stride and carries middling raw speed throughout a shift. His footwork in tight spaces is serviceable and his skating limitations are far less noticeable once established in a zone but he’s unlikely to win an outright race for a loose puck or burn wide past defenders on the rush. He’s also not the biggest player and can get punished in the tough areas on the ice. He has a battle mentality and never shies away from contact, but he certainly has limitations in physical contests. Coronato’s focus on getting to dangerous areas of the ice also presents his greatest goal-scoring threat. His shot isn’t a weakness, however it’s unlikely to beat a goalie clean and he is noticeably shy on the trigger from range. While I’ve focused on Coronato’s question marks, what he does have working for him is a singular and unique ability to mess with the timing of the opposition. I don’t think I’ve seen a player have so many opponents simply skate past him. He has supreme patience with the possession, and carries the puck with a myriad of pauses and freezes that make him incredibly difficult to close on with any sort of confidence. Coronato will always blink second and his ability to out-wait a defender garners him so much time and space. He poses such a tricky and unique challenge as there is seemingly no correct way to defend against him. He’ll step around overzealous attacks, and yet if you play him too patiently he’ll just walk down main street untouched. He is also most comfortable as a distributor so if another defender collapses to provide help, Coronato will be ready to find the now-open teammate. This method of gaining space for himself, not with flashy puck skills but with a deep understanding on how to use the opposition against themselves, is fascinating to watch and incredibly difficult to project. I can’t think of an NHL player who fits the same mold. I think he was a big gamble at pick No. 13 but he’s put-up impressive numbers at every level and I’ll be following closely to see if he can continue to be this effective in the professional ranks.
DAVID JIRICEK | D | CZECHIA | AUGUST 9, 2022
Draft status: 1/6 (2022) | Columbus Blue Jackets
Scouting report by Joey Fortin Boulay
David Jiricek is an all-round defenseman with stellar defensive flair and an impactful offensive game. He had a shaky start in this viewing, but really stepped up in the second and third period as no Slovakian player could get past him in the neutral zone. He shows fluid mobility in all directions with great edges and stops for a guy with his size. He displays incredible power in his stride and has second-gear acceleration. He’s also able to gain considerable speed in his crossovers. Jiricek exudes a calm, dominant presence on the ice. He has outstanding vision since he has the ability to see passing lanes through traffic. He shows remarkable patience and poise with the puck, and takes all the necessary time and space to pick his best option. He’s incredibly precise with his zone exit outlets, but can also take it though the neutral zone with speed. He frequently jumps in offense in the opponent’s zone and has the gut to deke players. But his most dangerous asset at the other end is his booming slap shot. He will also use his wrist shot mostly to get the puck to the net. Jiricek plays the body very well and gets the inside position in almost all of his battles, thanks to his tall frame. He has a really disruptive stick that he exhibits through his long reach and well-timed pokechecks. He loves to get physical, mean, and will profusely deliver huge hits, but he can cross the line sometimes and get bad penalties. Jiricek blossomed into a very dominant defenseman with a toolkit that fairly justify his draft position. He’s on his way to become a top-pair defenseman in the NHL down the road.
SIMON EDVINSSON | D | Sweden | August 10, 2022
Draft status: 1/6 (2021) | Detroit Red Wings
Scouting report by Austin Broad
Simon Edvinsson is a solid all-round defenseman who can excel at both ends of the ice because of his skating ability and hockey IQ. His skating and offensive upside is tremendous; he has great puck skills and has the potential to become and elite skater at the NHL level. Edvinsson can drive transition play from the back end, either by skating the puck end-to-end by himself or delivering excellent passes that stretch the ice for his team. He’s an effective player with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone — using his mobility to open up passing/shooting lanes and using his vision to constantly examine the ice and find his teammates with accurate passes. Defensively he can use his size and skating to eliminate the opposition’s time and space and force them away from the center lane, making their offensive chances less dangerous. At times there are some inconsistencies with his defensive zone reads, though. Edvinsson can misjudge the play and get caught out of position, or get caught flatfooted and allow his opponent to easily get past him. These down moments are not common enough to pose any real long-term issues right now and, with the right development plan, he should be able to eliminate these mistakes. Detroit has a solid core of defensemen in their system already and, with Moritz Seider as the future No. 1, Edvinsson has less pressure on him to become a top-pairing guy. That being said, he has all the potential to develop into a top-two guy that plays in all situations. The Red Wings are in good hands, particularly on defense, and Edvinsson should play a big part of their future success.