Photo courtesy of Liiga.fi

Fantasy Summary

Extremely talented and creative playmaker with high-end offensive upside. Capable of playing both center and wing, likely projects to be a winger at the NHL level. Loses value in multi-cat leagues because he doesn’t really offer anything in peripheral stats.


Observations

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June 2020 – For both the Panthers and Fantasy owners alike, patience is going to be the key with Heponiemi. He has not looked like the same player since his struggles during the 2019 Liiga playoffs and his AHL rookie season can be chalked up as forgettable. Of course, the skill level and talent that made him a second-round pick back in 2017 is still present. There is still a good chance he becomes a key asset to Florida down the line but a lot needs to happen before then. It is apparent that Heponiemi needs to add some size and strength if he is going to remain a successful playmaker at the professional level in North America. On top of that, he is going to need the necessary playing time to continue his developmental path. Expect him to receive plenty of ice-time at the beginning of the AHL season but do not expect that he will maintain it if his struggles continue. Luckily, he appeared more comfortable at the end of last season and the hope is that he rides that momentum into next year. Still, it is looking like the earliest Heponiemi will reach the NHL is 2021-22 season. John Gove

March 2020 – Heponiemi is definitely one of Florida’s building blocks for the future and with a couple more seasons of AHL experience he’ll provide ample points to both the Panthers and his fantasy owners. Keith Fries

February 2020 – Fantasy owners will have to wait a while until they can start adding Heponiemi to their line-up but know that his time with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds is paying off big time! He flashed his offensive gifts with strong hands and clean edges to circle away and shake off a defender before making a blind, backhanded, pass using the reflection off the boards to find his teammate. His two-way game was outstanding, as well, with solid poke checks and open zone coverages. A solid prospect and fantasy option for the future. Keith Fries

November 2019 – Whether he is getting lost in his own head or trying to force plays, Heponiemi can sometimes not settle into games. He makes some smart decisions and then some equally poor ones, as well. In one instance,  he had a successful drop pass in the neutral zone and continued up ice, not realizing his teammate had turned over the puck with the play already heading back into his own zone. Although he’s still a piece of playdough in need of molding, Heponiemi shows flashes of his high-end skill and skating which should make fantasy owners happy to hear. Keith Fries

 

May 2019 – Heponiemi had some highs and lows in the second half of his Liiga season. Beginning with the highs, Heponiemi was able to gather eight goals 20 points in 21 regular season games. The elusive puck-handling forward was also able to keep his scoring production up while developing the defensive side of his game. On the other hand, during the playoffs, Heponiemi only picked up three points (all goals) in 17 games struggling to produce while being provided nearly the same time on ice as during the regular season. With his time in Kärpät completed, Heponiemi was quick to sign his entry level contract with the Florida Panthers. Furthermore, Aleksi took another step forward this season proving that he can play in the men’s league and produce offensively which will be key in transitioning over to either the NHL or AHL next season. He should get a long look by the Panthers evaluation team in September but will most likely have to start with the Springfield Falcons due to the forward depth above him. If Florida is looking to make any big signings/moves this summer, there could be a possibility that he could start with the main club to save on salary. Heponiemi could become a great pick up in the deeper rounds of your fantasy draft this upcoming season.  Maxime Tellier

December 2018 – Heponiemi has been invited to Finland’s World Junior Championship camp, and he’s expected to be one of the top players on his team alongside his partner in crime Rasmus Kupari.  Jokke Nevalainen

November 2018 – Heponiemi has had a great start to his season in the Finnish Liiga. He’s a teenager playing his rookie season at the pro level but he’s already one of the best players in the league. His 18 points in 21 games is currently 15th in the league scoring but he’s only three points behind third place on that list. Heponiemi has been playing right wing with another teenager Rasmus Kupari at center on his line. Those two have had instant chemistry, and they are expected to be offensive leaders for Team Finland at the upcoming World Juniors as well.  Jokke Nevalainen

June 2018 – Heponiemi had an amazing second season in the WHL where he led the league with his 2.07 points-per-game average during the regular season. He only had 28 goals in 57 games but added a whopping 90 assists for a total of 118 points. His scoring rate dropped a bit during the playoffs where he scored five goals and 30 points in 25 games but Heponiemi was a big reason why the Swift Current Broncos won the WHL title and advanced to the Memorial Cup, although they were quickly eliminated from there. After his season was over, Heponiemi signed a two-year contract with Kärpät which means he’s going back home to Finland to play in Liiga. After that two-year contract, Heponiemi is likely ready to challenge for a spot on the NHL roster.  Jokke Nevalainen

January 2018 – Heponiemi represented Finland at the 2018 World Junior Championship tournament where he had two goals and no assists in five games. More was expected from him but Heponiemi is still eligible to play in the tournament next year. He did show some positive signs like driving to the net on both goals he scored and creating some scoring chances for his line mates, although they weren’t able to score on them. Heponiemi is a natural center but spent the entire tournament playing wing on the second line and second power play unit, so his usage was not optimal. With a strong finish, Heponiemi still has a chance to win the WHL scoring title despite missing almost a month because of the tournament. Jokke Nevalainen

December 2017 – Heponiemi is at the top of the Western Hockey League scoring race with 71 points in 29 games. Although he’s still only 18 years old, Heponiemi is expected to be an offensive leader for Team Finland at the upcoming World Junior Championship tournament in Buffalo. The 40th overall selection from last summer is starting to look like a draft day steal. Jokke Nevalainen

September 2017 – Heponiemi returned to major junior after being drafted 40th overall by the Panthers. The Broncos have a talented roster this season with the likes of line-mate Tyler Steenbergen, Glenn Gawdin, and 2019 draft-eligible prospect Logan Barlage who will be playing his first full season with the team. The first thing that stands out while watching Heponiemi is that he tends to be quite patient, with and without the puck. Heponiemi is strong in the faceoff circle, and appears to be uber-conscious of his defensive positioning. Despite being held of the scoresheet in his first game, there doesn’t appear to be any reason to expect a decline from Heponiemi in his second North American campaign, however the lightweight Finn will certainly need to add strength and size before his off-speed strategy will be effective against men. Brayden Olafson

June 2017 – Taken as the 10th-overall selection in the CHL import draft, the wildly talented Finn came over to the WHL before the 2016-17 campaign with some expectations but little fanfare. Instead of quietly adjusting to the smaller rink and tougher games, Heponiemi grabbed ahold of the offensive leadership in Swift Current and produced almost immediately. He was named the WHL rookie of the year after posting the most assists and points of any first-year player. A gifted playmaker with top-notch vision, processing skills and the ability to run a power play from the half wall, Heponiemi will need to build more strength before cracking an NHL lineup, but when it comes to pure skill, he’s one of the best in this draft class. Cam Robinson

Attributes
Fantasy Upside 7.7
NHL Certainty 7.0
Country FIN
Position RW
Roster Type Minors
Shoot/Glove Left
Date of Birth January 9, 1999
Height 5‘11”
Weight 154 lbs
Drafted 2017 Round 2; Overall: 40

Stats

 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2013-2014 Ilves U16U16 SM-sarja Q6 3 47 0|        
  Ilves U16U16 SM-sarja15 2 57 2|        
 2014-2015 Ilves U16U16 SM-sarja Q10 7 1825 2|        
  Ilves U16U16 SM-sarja31 26 5076 16|        
  Ilves U18U18 SM-sarja1 0 00 0|        
  Finland U16 (all)International-Jr7 1 23 0|        
 2015-2016 Ilves U18U18 SM-sarja39 25 4065 24|Playoffs5 2 46
  Ilves U20U20 SM-sarja7 2 24 2|Playoffs7 1 01
  Finland U17WHC-175 0 00 0|        
 2016-2017 Swift Current BroncosWHL72 28 5886 18|Playoffs14 0 88
  Finland U18Hlinka Gretzky Cup4 0 55 0|        
  Finland U18 (all)International-Jr3 0 33 0|        
 2017-2018 Swift Current BroncosWHL57 28 90118 28|Playoffs26 5 2530
  Finland U20WJC-205 2 02 2|        
  Swift Current BroncosM-Cup3 1 34 2|        
  Finland U20 (all)International-Jr10 3 14 2|        
 2018-2019 KärpätLiiga50 16 3046 8|Playoffs17 3 03
  KärpätChampions HL10 2 57 12|        
  Finland U20WJC-207 3 69 4|        
  Finland U20 (all)International-Jr12 6 1117 6|        
 2019-2020 Springfield ThunderbirdsAHL49 3 1114 16|        
 2020-2021 MODO HockeyHockeyAllsvenskan8 1 34 20|        

Highlights