JYP’s Brad Lambert in La Liiga, the top men’s professional league in Finland, will file a draft log for NHL.com this season ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Center in Montreal on July 7-8. The 17-year-old center, a projected first-round selection, has an assist and a 12:44 ice time average in nine games this season. He scored 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 46 games for JYP last season and scored four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games for Finland, third at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship and five assists in five games. in fourth place with Finland at the Under-18 Worlds. He is under contract with JYP until this season.
Hi hockey fans:
I’m so glad I have the opportunity to write a draft journal this season for NHL.com. For my first post of the season, I thought I would provide a little background.
My father’s family was born in Canada. My grandfather, my father and his two brothers played and coached hockey most of their lives. My Uncle Dale currently coaches the Saskatoon Contacts Midget AAA team. My cousin, Jimmy, is in his final year at the University of Michigan and my Uncle Lane is the associate coach of the New York Islanders, so they’re my favorite NHL team right now.
My mother and her family are all Finnish and live in Finland and are also very involved in ice sports. My aunt Eija played for Finland at the world ringette championships and won a bronze medal. My uncle Jussi coached Finland to gold at the world ringette championships.
I’ve always been to school and played hockey in Finland, except for a full season and a few years of spring hockey in Saskatoon, so in 2019 when I was offered a contract. Liiga with HIFK when I was 15, it was just the natural thing to do. I wasn’t old enough or eligible to play in the Canadian Hockey League at the time, so being able to play in the top junior league in Finland and at La Liiga games was a great opportunity.
Playing in Finland has also made it more possible to play with the Finnish national teams during the season as they have breaks in the league schedules. The previous season I had played three tournaments with the Finnish National Under-16 team, three tournaments with the Under-17 team and the Gretzky Hlinka Cup with the Under-18 team. It was a lot of fun and it was a great experience, so I wanted to be able to keep doing it.
My dad told me to approach this year the same as every other year and keep doing what I was doing, having fun and trying to improve a little bit every day, and that ‘ is my state of mind for this season.
My mom has done so many things to help me. I can’t list them all, but they range from putting on goalie gear when we need a goalie, to taking care of my nutrition, often cooking four or five meals a day for me.
We started the season well at JYP (5-4, three overtime wins). We’ve won our last three preseason games and have points in eight of our 12 regular season games, including the last five in a row, so it’s been really nice to get back on the winning streak after last season. (13-34, 4-8 in OT). We have a few new Finnish players, three Canadian players, one player born in Sweden and one player born in the Czech Republic who weren’t here last season. Everyone works really hard.
With all the new players, the flu that ran its course in the first three weeks of the regular season and the injuries, we’ve had a lot of different lineups and line combinations. I’ve played with all of our left wingers so far, but my right wing has always been Reid Gardiner or Jerry Turkulainen. Both are great guys, great players and fun to play with.
Unfortunately for me, I was one of the injured and sick guys. I missed most of training camp and the first preseason games due to injury when I was with the Finland Junior National Team in Plymouth, Michigan for the World Junior Summer Showcase. I now have an injury and hope to be back this weekend.
When I’m on the ice, I think my strengths are my skating, my skills with the puck, my vision and my hockey IQ. I feel like I need to improve every aspect of my game and one way to do that is to look at current NHL players and learn from what I see them doing. I really like to watch guys like Matthieu barzal (New York Islanders), Connor mcdavid (Edmonton Oilers), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), Patrick kane (Chicago Blackhawks) and Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins).
For the past few years, I have played equally in center and wing. There are things I like best about playing on the wing, and I think it’s a big advantage to be comfortable with both, but overall I prefer the wing. center. I think that at the center there are more opportunities to use my strengths and to have a bigger impact on the game. So far this year I have played all games except one at the center.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of being drafted and playing in the NHL, but I haven’t really thought much about the 2022 draft yet. I didn’t even know the draft was at the Bell Center. in Montreal until I was told about a week ago. I’ve never been to the Bell Center, but I really hope that the draft will be normal rather than virtual next summer because it would be quite special to be drafted there.
Thanks for reading this month and have a great start to the NHL season!
Photo credits: Jiri Halttunen, photographer JYP
Listen: New episode in the NHL Draft