MONTRÉAL, QC – The Montréal Canadiens announced Friday that the team and Lukas Vejdemo have agreed to terms on a one-year, two-way contract extension. Sunday, the club revealed that he has been loaned to Södertälje SK in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-highest professional hockey league.
The 6’2”, 196-pound forward’s contract has an average annual value of $700,000 in the National Hockey League and $100,000 in the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old native of Stockholm, Sweden is a mainstay on the Laval roster.
Montréal drafted Vejdemo in the third round (87th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He signed his entry-level contract (ELC) in 2018 and has spent most of the two seasons since developing his game with the Rocket in the AHL.
YOU WANT SOME STATS?
Before signing that ELC, Vejdemo spent 147 games with Djurgårdens IF Ishockeyförening in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). There, he tallied 19 goals and 28 assists (47 points). In North America, he has 48 points (22 G – 26 A) across 113 AHL games and one single point (a goal) in seven games with the Canadiens.
In the 2019-20 season, the Swede potted nine goals and 10 assists in 47 games for the Rocket.
He was emergency recalled by the Canadiens on March 4 to fill a hole in the roster left by forward Tomas Tatar sustaining an upper-body injury on March 3 against the New York Islanders. During this brief stint with the big club, Vejdemo scored his first (and only) NHL goal – on home ice against the Nashville Predators.
Un premier but dans la LNH pour Lukas Vejdemo! 👏
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) March 11, 2020
Following the 4-2 loss, the Canadiens reassigned him to Laval. On March 12, the NHL announced that the regular season would pause as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the NHL announced their plan to end the regular season and begin the postseason, Vejdemo did not make the trip back to Montréal to attend training camp. He remained in Sweden instead.
SPEAKING OF SWEDEN
Now that he’s been extended by the Canadiens, playing in Sweden until next season is the next logical step. As backward as that sounds, I have previously mentioned that European players who did not participate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (or the qualifying round) should be looking for any opportunity to play hockey at a professional level. Especially those who are still developing.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) September 6, 2020
By the time December 4 rolls around and Vejdemo is (hopefully) able to attend training camp, those couple of months of play will do wonders for his ability to jump back into the higher level of intensity that comes with hockey in North America.
For now, it remains to be seen whether that loan to a team in his home country means that Vejdemo will see any major ice time or play heavy minutes, but training and practicing with a professional team is still far and away the best option for a young player looking to make it back to the roster when the AHL resumes play. If he sees a fair amount of games with Södertälje SK, that is the icing on the proverbial cake.
PLAYING FROM THE HEART
Listen, Vejdemo is never going to be an elite sniper. His hands and offensive imagination just aren’t that good. However, he is a large body with a defensive mind able to carry a large responsibility in a checking role in the middle or bottom six of the forward corps. He is a natural center that can play well on the wing, a deployment he has seen in the past two seasons with both the Rocket and the Canadiens. And while his speed is an asset he can use to his advantage, it’s what doesn’t show up on the score sheet that will lead to success at the highest levels of hockey: his discipline and strong work ethic that set him apart from the rest of the pack.
His dedication to the causes that hit close to home is another intangible that helps quantify the character the entire Canadiens organization is determined to build around.
Vejdemo is committed to raising awareness of the importance of cardiovascular health after losing his mother to a heart attack when he was 13. That loss shaped a young boy and who he would become. Now, it’s a cause close to the hearts of the team and Habs fans the world over following Montréal Head Coach Claude Julien’s recent health scare.
While you’re here, consider checking out the American Heart Association at www.heart.org for resources and ways to get involved in raising awareness or self-education on just how vital your cardiovascular health is. It’s never too early or too late to start taking care of your heart.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Vejdemo is one more in an ever-growing list of players for the Rocket with a kilowatt smile. Other players whose joy forces itself onto you include Cayden Primeau, Noah Juulsen, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Jake Evans (to name a few).
When players enjoy playing for and with their team, that happiness radiates out onto everything they do with that club.
I want to leave you with this video of Vejdemo and Nikita Jevpalovs playing some soccer and tennis hybrid on the ice at Place Bell. Honestly, if we don’t see it become a sport played every four years for international glory, I will be very disappointed.
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