Montreal Canadiens: Artturi Lehkonen Sheds Dubious Moniker in Stanley Cup Win

Jun 26, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Artturi Lehkonen. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Artturi Lehkonen. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens were certain to be sellers at the 2022 trade deadline in March. They sat at the bottom of the standings and it only made sense to sell off a few veterans.

The only question was, how much of a seller would they be? Would they just ship out a couple of veterans on expiring deals or was a complete firesale and teardown in order?

Trading players who were about to be unrestricted free agents was easy. See ya later Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak, you’ll be leaving town as a free agent in a couple of months anyway. Once Tyler Toffoli was dealt to the Calgary Flames, it signalled that the management team was willing to move players with a little more team control.

The debate raged on for weeks leading up to the trade deadline about whether or not Lehkonen was the next player on the way out. It sounds obvious, but the consensus feeling was an overwhelming offer would get a deal done, but they weren’t making trades just to make trades.

General Manager Kent Hughes finally got the offer he could not refuse from the Colorado Avalanche. Lehkonen was on his way to the Mile High City, and Justin Barron was coming to Montreal with a second round pick attached as well. It was a great offer for Lehkonen and a great deal for the Canadiens.

But it proved to be an even better trade for the Colorado Avalanche. Lehkonen was mocked a bit on social media by Habs fans who called him “Almost Lehkonen” repeatedly, pointing out he sure gets a lot of scoring chances that don’t go in.

Well, he put them in when they mattered the most. He did that last season for the Canadiens when he scored in overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup semifinal against the Vegas Golden Knights. His goal sent the Habs to the Final for the first time in 28 years.

It was kind of a broken play as they crossed the blue line but his centre, Phillip Danault worked the puck to Lehkonen who was streaking down the left wing and he snapped the puck over the goaltender’s shoulder.

In an eerily similar play last night, Lehkonen scored an even bigger game winning goal. This time, his marker was the difference in a 2-1 game that clinched the Stanley Cup for the Colorado Avalanche.

This time, the puck came to centre Nathan MacKinnon just inside the blue line and he kind of bobbled it as he tried to send it back to the right wing. Then he gathered it back quickly and backhanded it across to Lehkonen who was streaking down the left wing and snapped the puck over the goaltender’s shoulder.

Before the Avs made the Stanley Cup Final, it was once again Lehkonen who sent them there with a game winning goal. It was an overtime game winner against the Edmonton Oilers as he drove the net, picked up a rebound and sent it into the Oilers goal to send the Avalanche to the Cup Final.

It is quite the highlight reel. In the past 12 months Lehkonen has scored two conference final winning goals and a Stanley Cup winning goal. “Almost Lehkonen” is no more and “Always Lehkonen” comes through again for the biggest goal of his career.

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