Aleksi Heponiemi, Panthers loan prospect at Swedish club Modo Hockey
SUNRISE, Florida – One of the Florida Panthers’ top prospects who always strive to reach his potential is sent overseas to work on his game.
Panthers youngster Aleksi Heponiemi has been loaned to Swedish club Modo Hockey, which is part of HockeyAllsvenskan, the country’s second division league.
The movement was announced by Modo Hockey on Sunday.
Heponiemi, 21, was Florida’s second-round pick (40th overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft. He is in the first year of his entry-level contract, which runs until the 2021 season. -22.
Hepo’s first year under contract with the Panthers was spent with the Springfield Thunderbirds, the American Hockey League branch in Florida last season.
In 49 games with Springfield, Heponiemi scored 14 points (3-11-14) while mostly bouncing around the middle of the six forwards group.
The undersized center, at 5-10, 148 pounds, struggled in his first professional season in North America after enjoying a highly successful campaign the previous year for Karpat in the Finnish Elite League, the Liiga .
Considered among the best professional leagues in the world, Heponiemi’s success in La Liiga, up to 46 points (16-30-46) in 50 games, suggested that he would seek a position in the NHL during his first camp. training with the Panthers last fall.
That concept was quickly put to bed as the 20-year-old didn’t show much during camp and was among the first youngsters sent to the AHL club.
According to Heponiemi, who spoke to Modo official website after signing, the plan is to return to South Florida for training camp later this year.
“I had a difficult first season in the AHL, where I needed time to develop myself for this type of game,” Heponiemi said in a commentary translated into English. “Now the situation is like the whole world where no one really knows what’s going to happen. I’m ready for Modo Hockey, but if there’s a camp and a season in the AHL, we’ll see when the time comes. . “
Modo plays 21 games in September and October, which is about 40 percent of the team’s HockeyAllsvenskan schedule.
Heponiemi is expected to join Modo, who plays in Ornskoldsvik, a small town on the east coast of Sweden, sometime next week. Hepo is expected to play a starring role and perhaps gain some confidence ahead of his second season in North America.
He will play under former NHL veteran Ville Nieminen, a well-known Finnish forward who has appeared in 747 combined NHL-Liiga games.
Like many young Finns, Heponiemi is familiar with Nieminen’s career and accolades and has expressed his enthusiasm for playing for him.
Modo’s first game of the 2020-21 season will take place on September 11 against AIK in Stockholm. The club’s home opener takes place five days later against Sodertalje SK.
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