Florida Panthers: Can Juho Lammikko Make the Opening Night Roster?

It’s been an exciting month of May for Florida Panthers prospect Juho Lammikko, winning the IIHF Championship with Finland this past Sunday. This brings up the question: what’s next for Lammikko?

The Finns’ 3-1 victory over Canada was seen as a surprise. In a tournament that saw talents such as Nikita Kucherov, Alex Ovechkin, Elias Pettersson, Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, and Sean Couturier, it was the Finns, with just two players with NHL experience, that won the competition.

Lammikko’s role for Finland was similar to his role with Florida in the short stint he was called up. Lammikko was used on the bottom six for Jukka Jalonen’s Finland, and to good effect.

While Lammikko missed the first three games of the tournament due to nagging injuries, he returned to the lineup and was a key piece defensively in the Finns’ run to the title.

Lammikko played seven games in the IIHF World Championship, failing to register any points. While that sounds disappointing, Lammikko isn’t a consistent point producer at any level.

He registered just six points (all assists) at the NHL level last season across a span of forty games, so his stats shouldn’t be too worrisome.

What does stand out are his numbers defensively. Despite not contributing to any goals, Lammikko’s +/- remained at an even 0 throughout the tournament. This means that he was never on the ice when his opponents scored.

As mentioned, there was some seriously high-caliber talent at this tournament, so it’s big to see Lammikko defending well against the highest level.

With the IIHF done, his attention now shifts to October, hoping to crack the Panthers’ opening night roster.

His play at the NHL level last year bordered between average and above average, filling the fourth line center spot whilst Vincent Trocheck missed time with injury.

Fortunately for him, with the departures of former captain Derek MacKenzie as well as Jared McCann, there’s increasing space on the depth chart for centers. The Panthers also casted Derick Brassard at the trade deadline, and may not bring back pending UFA Riley Sheahan.

That would leave Henrik Borgström and Denis Malgin as the last two centers on the roster. The benefit for Lammikko is that his strengths are Malgin and Borgstrom’s weaknesses, as neither pride themselves on defense the way that Lammikko does.

The bottom six will be competitive for the Panthers’ young forward core, especially if the Cats land a big-name forward to bolster their top six, or if fellow Finn Aleksi Heponiemi joins the team.

Names like Dryden Hunt, Jayce Hawryluk, Anthony Greco, and newly signed Rodrigo Abols will all be competing for the final forward spot on the roster.

Ultimately, despite his fair performances over the last year, Lammikko’s time may not come with the Panthers quite yet. Dale Tallon is a huge fan of both Heponiemi and Abols, and with Borgstrom looking to cement his way into the rotation, there isn’t a lot of room for another center.

Juho should remain positive about his situation, however. There’s plenty of time left in his career and a coach like Joel Quenneville always appreciates having a defensive-minded forward around on his team.