Juho Lammikko is not a name that is on the radar of too many Florida Panthers fans. He did land #19 on the LBC Top 25 under 25 series this past summer, but he is not often thought of when fans talk about the club's future. This season might just change that. He has been very impressive, and turned some heads this fall and early winter with his play in Kingston. He might yet prove to be a draft day steal for Dale Tallon.
This Finnish forward with good size was selected in the 3rd round of the 2014 NHL entry draft, 64th overall. Coming into the draft, he was known as an aggressive two-way player with a simple game of playing hard and getting into the dirty areas of the ice, who also possessed solid but not outstanding speed. He really popped up on the NHL scouts radar after the World U18 championships in 2014, where this report was filed:
Juho Lammikko (Åssat Pori): Nobody helped themselves more at the World U-18s. Played a very hard game and was dangerous every shift.
What is particularly noteworthy throughout Lammikko's development is that he is a young player who has often played against older players. As a 16-17 year-old, he played for Finland's U18 Assat team, where he was often the youngest player in the game, and still managed 21 goals and 53 points in only 31 games. As a 17-18 year-old, he played for the Assat U20 team, putting up 42 points in only 37 games. Due to his success, Assat tried him out in the top Finnish league (The Liiga) where he struggled mightily. This led to his time in Kingston last season, where he played for a rather poor Frontenacs team.
In his first season in Kingston, in 2014-15, he played in 64 games, where he scored 18 goals and added 26 assists (good for 44 points). It was also noteworthy because he played on the same team as fellow Cat prospect Lawson Crouse. He played well, but was more noteworthy for his two-way game than for stellar offensive production.
Fast forward to 2015-16, and his return to the OHL, and this 19-year old has emerged as quite the offensive threat, as well as a skilled face-off man. Now 6'2", 207 lbs, Lammikko has added weight since he was drafted (roughly 20 lbs). He is a left handed forward who typically plays on the left wing, although he is seeing a great deal of time at center this season. At the time of this writing, Kingston sits atop the OHL's Eastern Conference with 43 points, and a 20-9-2-1 record. They have accomplished this despite having no player in the OHL's top-20 in points.
Lammikko is 3rd on the team in goals, with 10, and 2nd on the team in points, with 28. For comparison's sake, This summer's first-rounder, Crouse, is 4th on the team in goals with 9, and 4th on the team in points with 24, while playing 8 fewer games than Lammikko. Crouse is scoring at a rate of 1.09 points-per-game, while Lammikko is scoring at .93 points-per-game. Looking at some of the Panthers young players who recently graduated from the CHL, Vincent Trocheck scored in his final season in the OHL at a rate of 1.60 points-per-game, Quinton Howden scored (in the WHL) at a rate of 1.31 points-per-game, and Logan Shaw (in the QMJHL) scored at a rate of 1.01 points-per-game.
While Lammikko is behind all of these players, Kingston is a team that does not score a lot of goals (which was one of the things that made it difficult to evaluate Crouse in the draft). Their top scorer is Spencer Watson (an L.A. Kings draft pick, 209th overall in 2014), with 32 points and 17 goals, and only three players have hit double digits in goals scored this season. Lammikko and Watson showed excellent chemistry early this season.
While they may not score large numbers of goals-the team does have a number of players, including Crouse and Lammikko, that will play a two-way game and have no problems getting heavy in the dirty areas of the ice. Typical of Juho and his offensive play, is this description from his goal on December 6th of this year against Hamilton:
Juho Lammikko slipped into the slot and ripped his tenth of the season into the top corner to make it 2-0.
This is what the young Finn is known for. Coming into the 2014 draft, Juho was scouted as a wing who plays hard at both ends of the ice, and was excellent in the corners and in tight spaces. He was noted to have good hands and excellent playmaking ability, as well as a being a player who was happy to shoot the puck. One OHL report noted that as of 7-games into this season, the Finn was averaging 4 shots per game. His hockey IQ and defensive intelligence and positioning are considered well-developed. This season, Lammikko has already found himself 2nd on Kingston with a +9 rating (Roland McKeown, a defenseman, leads the team at +11). He has also enjoyed playing a 2nd season with Crouse:
Lammikko and Crouse were teammates with the Kingston Frontenacs this past season and the duo carried some chemistry together through the development camp this summer.
Of particular interest has been a sudden shift in position for this frequent left wing to center. Juho has not struggled at the more demanding position, as his plus/minus and face-off percentages show. He has taken a team leading 820 face-offs for Kinsgton and won 52%. Hockey's Future had this to say about his sudden shift to center:
One of the more interesting developments in regard to Lammikko this season is his shift to center. Though he’s primarily listed as a winger, Lammikko has taken a team-leading 797 faceoffs for Kingston this season, 300-plus more than Ted Nichol, who has taken the second most on the team. He has excelled in the faceoff dot as well, winning 52 percent of draws.
The World Junior Hockey Championships commence shortly, and Lammikko has again made Finland's team. It will be very interesting to see how he performs on this stage against the world's best U20's. Unfortunately for scouting purposes, it has been reported that AHL players Kasperi Kapanen and Mikko Rantanen will also be joining Finland, and that (with respect to Rantanen) could cut Juho's time at the top of the lineup.
Lammikko is still a young player. I would expect he and Crouse to be split up next season, with Lawson headed for the NHL, while Juho is likely to play a year in Finland's top league, The Liiga, against fully grown professionals. This path served Aleksander Barkov well, and it is likely to do the same in this case. It was expected that Lammikko would play in The Liiga this season, but it was not to be. By all accounts, this second season in the OHL will serve his development very well. How Lammikko performs in The Liiga will go a long way towards predicting his NHL future, but for now, this Finn has done an excellent job of placing himself squarely on the prospect chart as it is altered according to this season's play.