After the New Jersey Devils selected Lenni Hameenaho in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft, the Finnish forward was invited to play at the World Junior Summer Showcase to represent Finland. Fans of New Jersey got their first taste of Hameenaho at development camp held at RWJBarnabas Arena a couple of weeks back. The 18-year-old forward showed a combination of high IQ, smooth hands, and a heavy shot that led viewers to believe the Devils have a future NHLer in Hameenaho. Kicking off the World Junior Summer Showcase on Sunday, Hameenaho scored an impressive goal to kick off the tournament.
Hameenaho described himself as “more of an offensive zone player this summer. I like to be with the puck. I’m a smart player. I like to create scoring chances for myself and my linemates.”
According to some outside perspectives:
Scott Wheeler – The Athletic – June 5th: “He goes to the net, and gets involved, and reads the play quickly, and has decent skill across the board when opportunities to make plays arise, but he lacks a dynamic quality. I could envision him becoming a complementary winger in the NHL, but I don’t see him as either a driver, a checker, or a skill guy.”
Chris Peters – Flo Hockey – June 1st: “He didn’t stand out as much at the World Juniors, but he has good hands and can find the net. Hameenaho is versatile enough to find a down-the-lineup role and perhaps provide some scoring depth at the next level.”
Corey Pronman – The Athletic – May 30th: “Hameenaho is a well-rounded winger who doesn’t stand out at any one thing. Hameenaho has good pace and skill in his game, showing he can generate controlled entries versus men.”
Jason Bukala – Sportsnet – May 5th: “Not a burner. Average plus skater with great mitts. Ability to score from range. Protects pucks well and finds second chances around the crease. Has a quick release that does not require much time or space.”
True to his own word, Hameenaho scored the first goal for Finland at the summer tournament creating a chance all for himself. Carey Terrance, representing Team White USA, retrieved a loose puck in the defensive zone. He began skating the puck toward the neutral zone until Hameenaho picked his pocket on the forecheck. The Devils prospect maintained the offensive zone, pulled off a give-n-go with Konsta Helenius, dangled, and sniped one past Trey Augustine, goaltending prospect for the Detroit Red Wings.
— James Nichols (@JamesNicholsNHL) July 30, 2023
The Devils didn’t have a first-round selection in 2023. However, they knew they were selecting Hameenaho all the way. New Jersey believes they snagged a first-round talent in the second round. There’s plenty of time to see how that plays out, but it’s been a good start for the 18-year-old forward. Finland defeated USA White 4-2 in their first game. Hameenaho finished with two points, later collecting an assist in the second period.
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