Undrafted Ikonen hopes he left an impression at WJC evaluation camp
LAKE PLACID, NY -- Finland forward Juuso Ikonen came here a year ago as an 18-year-old forward with hopes of using the national junior evaluation camp as a first step toward being drafted by an NHL team.
That didn't work, as the 5-foot-9, 169-pound left wing wasn't among the 211 players to hear his name called in June at the 2013 NHL Draft.
He was back in Lake Placid again this week, again hoping to use this camp as a chance to showcase himself for NHL scouts.
When he entered the spotlight Saturday, he certainly left a lasting positive impression, scoring in the 10th round of a shootout to lift his team to a 3-2 win against Sweden at Herb Brooks Arena.
Ikonen had shot second for Finland, but Sweden goalie Oscar Dansk turned aside his wrist shot. For his second chance, Ikonen said he decided to try something different, and instead roofed a shot over a lunging Dansk.
"I thought maybe try something else this time," Ikonen told NHL.com. "I saw it was open upstairs so I just tried to shoot it there and it went in."
Ikonen had one assist in four games, but he'll return to Finland and get ready for his second season with Espoo in SM-liiga, the top league in the country. In 57 games with Espoo last season, he had 13 goals and 26 points, but it wasn't enough to earn a call from an NHL team.
"I thought maybe I could get drafted," Ikonen said. "I was hoping for it. … Of course I was a bit disappointed, but I can't do anything about it anymore. I was a bit disappointed, but life goes on."
It went on very well for Ikonen this week.
"I think he got better all the time," Finland coach Karri Kivi said. "He started on the fourth line and last game he played on the first line. The reason was he worked hard."
Ikonen said he's worked hard over the summer on getting stronger, as well as trying add some speed to his game.
"The legs," he said. "Getting faster so I can battle and get moving in the corners."
Already moving well was Teuvo Teravainen. The Chicago Blackhawks' top prospect scored a pair of goals, including an unassisted goal 3:32 into the third to tie the game. That followed his penalty-shot goal 57 seconds into the second period that evened the game 1-1.
Teravainen finished his week with four goals in five games, and his coach called him the best player on any of the four teams here this week.
"It was a great tournament for him," Kivi said. "I think it was the best tournament he ever played. He was a leading player, that's for sure. He was the biggest reason that we had a good week."
Jacob de la Rose opened the scoring with a power-play goal 12:48 into the first period, and after Teravainen tied it, Christian Djoos put Sweden ahead when he scored off a Lucas Wallmark pass at 5:06 of the second.
Then Teravainen tied it, and after a scoreless overtime, Artturi Lehkonen scored for Finland on the first shot of the shootout. Sweden's Alexander Wennberg scored in the second round to tie it, and after Sweden's Filip Sandberg and Teravainen traded goals, Ikonen came up again in Round 10.
After going undrafted once already, Ikonen said he isn't raising his hopes for what could happen this June in Philadelphia.
"I just try to play my best," he said, "and maybe next year or some other year someone will pick me."
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor