Kärpät announced today that the club has signed Aleksi Heponiemi to a two-year contract.
The Florida Panthers’ prospect amassed 118 points in 57 games, including 90 assists, to finish third in WHL scoring this past season. He also recorded 5 goals and 30 points in 25 playoff games. The highly skilled and instinctive center led the league in assists both in the regular season and playoffs.
The Swift Current Broncos won the WHL Championship and went on to the Memorial Cup. However, they were unable to proceed to the finals, losing all three games by one goal margin.
Heponiemi was named to the WHL’s First All-Star Team. He was also named the Sportsman of the Year in the entire CHL.
Here’s a good visualization from the excellent Prospect Stats. With the exception of goals per game and even strength goals per 60 minutes, Heponiemi ranked at or near the top in several categories on the past WHL season.
Heponiemi possesses outstanding on-ice vision, puck poise and playmaking skills. He makes timely passes on the power play, moving the puck with cross-ice passes and finding seams in the opposing defense. He’s an extremely intelligent player.
The move to the Liiga is a very smart one for Heponiemi. He does not really have anything to prove at the junior level anymore and playing in a men’s league will help him prepare to make the jump to the NHL. Especially due to several departures from Kärpät, he will certainly be given the opportunity to succeed in the Liiga next season.