***COURTESY SHAWN MULLIN***


New Swift Current Broncos coach Manny Viveiros may want to add Finnish to his list of learned languages.

His new team has had quite a bit of luck in Finland lately and looks to continue that with new import forward Aleksi Heponiemi.

The skilled forward is expected to compete for a top six spot with the Broncos after they picked him 10th overall in the most recent CHL Import Draft.

Heponiemi arrived in Swift Current late last week and is enjoying his first impressions of the city.

"I think the city is pretty nice," Heponiemi said. "The rink is awesome and the people are really nice."

A product of Tampere in Finland, Heponiemi comes to Canada in time for his first season of NHL draft eligibility.

"It's a great country and you have really good hockey here," Heponiemi said. "It's a little better than Finland and I think it's a good decision."

With a smaller ice surface and a slightly different style of game the 5'7 forward expects to make some adjustments to his game here.

"I think I have to play a little bit more to the net and a little bit simpler game," Heponiemi noted. "If you have a good place to shoot you just have to shoot."

"I want to make my game a little bit simple. Of course I want to win lots."

That plays in some contrast to how he describes himself as a playmaker.

"I like to make plays for other guys," Heponiemi said. "I have pretty good ice vision. I'm also pretty quick at turns."

You just have to watch Heponiemi skate for a couple minutes to see that quick turning on display.

His playmaking ability was evident at the recent Ivan Hlinka tournament where Heponiemi centered the top line for Finland. He put up 5 assists in 4 games as Finland missed the medal round.

"Really good experience," Heponiemi said. "Even though we didn't make out so well it was a nice experience. (Wearing his country's jersey) means everything."

He scored 25 goals and 40 assists in 39 games for the Ilves U18 team in the Jr. B SM-sarja league last season.

The 17-year-old follows fellow countrymen Eetu Laurikainen and Julius Honka to Swift Current.

Laurikainen went from two great years with the Broncos to pro contracts in Finland and the AHL. Honka was picked in the first round of the NHL draft by Dallas.

Heponiemi picked their brains before making the decision to take his career here.

"Just a little," Heponiemi noted. "But they said Swift was a really good place to play and get better at hockey."

Swift Current's two imports are both on the NHL radar this season. Heponiemi and defenceman Artyom Minulin are listed as players to watch by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming 2017 draft.

Heponiemi is trying not to focus too much on that prospect.

"It will come if it comes," he added. "I just want to play hockey here."

Fans can check out the latest addition to the Broncos roster as scrimmages get underway at training camp tomorrow.

For a complete Decor Complete Training Camp schedule click here.

Scout