New Jersey Devils prospect, Lenni Hameenaho, is receiving a lot of praise for his play at the World Junior Championships. The Devils prospect is playing on Finland’s top line, helping Finland navigate through the tournament. On Sunday, Hameenaho scored his first goal of the tournament. On Tuesday, Hameenaho scored a big goal to give Finland their first lead in the quarterfinal matchup.
Coming out of the second intermission, Finland and Slovakia were tied at one. However, in the opening minute of the third period, Janne Naukkarainen forced a turnover in Slovakia’s end of the ice. Finnish captain Jere Lassila recovered the puck behind Slovakia’s goal line and fed Hameenaho at the top of the crease.
Hameenaho wasn’t known for his silky hands or goal-scoring touch upon being selected in the second round of the 2023 NHL draft. However, Hameenaho went forehand to backhand on the feed from Lassila and beat Chicago Blackhawks goaltending prospect Adam Gajan.
According to EliteProspects European scout, Lassi Alanen, Hameenaho has emerged as a top-10 player in terms of expected primary points. The Devils forward prospect was a bit snake-bitten to start the tournament. However, he’s been putting together strong games on a nightly basis and the points are starting to accrue.
Lenni Hämeenaho (NJD) ranks in the top-10 in expected primary points among all skaters during the group stage. He should have more goals based on the chances he's had, but he's also excelled as a setup man.
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) January 1, 2024
Not only is Hameenaho filling the net, but he’s setting his teammates up for quality chances as well. Hameenaho now has two goals and four points in the tournament through five games.
Finland finished fifth in last year’s tournament. With the positive play of Hameenaho, Finland has a chance to find their way back into the top three of the World Junior tournament. Finland defeated Slovakia on Tuesday 5-4 in overtime.