Prospect of the Week: October 9, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for September 24, 2013 is … Henri Ikonen, W (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).

Watching the Lightning’s camp this September, a smallish forward kept demanding my attention with his energy and surprisingly successful plays along the boards. At least three times I remember thinking to myself, “Who is 57 again?” before seeing “Ikonen, Henri” on the roster in front of me.

Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman likes skill and compete level in prospects and Ikonen boasts both. He also grades out high in hockey sense, another prioritized trait by Yzerman.

The young Finn, drafted in the sixth round this summer, showed it all at camp, even earning an exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues – a rarity for a sixth round player in his draft year. Unfortunately for Ikonen, he was knocked out of the game with a head injury after a few solid shifts.

The Lightning eventually returned Ikonen to his junior club in Kingston, Ontario, where he is a big part of a team stacked with maturing, 2014 draft talent like Sam Bennett, Roland McKeown, and Spencer Watson – all projected to go in the first round next July.

This past week Ikonen accumulated seven points in three games, including a four-point Friday.

He had an assist on Wednesday against Belleville, then added four more on Friday vs. Ottawa. He topped off his week with two goals on Sunday in a win over Sault Ste Marie. For that, he is our Prospect of the Week.

Ikonen has nine points (three goals) in five games on the season, which is one off Bennett for the Fronts’ scoring lead. Kingston coach and former NHLer Todd Gill is no doubt thankful Ikonen decided to stay in the Ontario Hockey League rather than returning home to Finland to play, which was a possibility for a while.

The Frontenacs, general managed by former NHL star Doug Gilmour, can go far this year and Ikonen is an important piece of the puzzle.

As for the Lightning’s puzzle and where Ikonen fits, he’s a wait-and-see prospect. He has skill to play on the top two lines, but like a Tom Pyatt or Dana Tyrell, can play a responsible energy line role if need-be. Time will tell and Ikonen has many years of patient development ahead of him. He’ll be 20 in April so he can be signed and placed in AHL Syracuse if the Lightning so desire.

Based on Ikonen’s attention-grabbing performance at the Lightning’s camp, it’s a strong possibility.

2013-2014 Prospect of the Week winners:

October 1: Andrey Vasilevskiy, G, (Salavat Yulaev, KHL, Russia).
September 24: Adam Erne, W, Tampa Bay (NHL) and Quebec (QMJHL)

Pictured: Ikonen wins a loose puck along the boards in his NHL exhibition game against St. Louis in Orlando, Florida.