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European Report: Eemeli Räsänen scores his first KHL goal

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Everyone is on the ice as all the regular seasons are underway, and we have an addition this week after cuts from Leafs camp.

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Yegor Korshkov

RW - 22 years old - shoots left - fourth full KHL season

Still injured.

Eemeli Räsänen

D - 19 years old - shoots right - first year in the KHL

Let’s get the important thing out of the way:

Monday was a good day for Eemeli Räsänen. He played a lot of minutes as Jokerit clowned Traktor with a final score of 8-0, and he scored his first goal.

Traktor is not very good, that’s obvious, and they were very not good on that day. Räsänen rotated into the third pair a lot and played with Viktor Lööv. Lööv, who you may recall on the Marlies as never being much of an offensive force, spent the game shooting the puck. He led the team in Shots on Goal, and he really seemed to be trying very hard to get noticed.

In the end, it was one of Räsänen’s classic point shots that got through. He doesn’t just shoot hard, he has real skill at getting the puck through traffic, and this is what makes him valuable on the power play. It will be a long time before he cracks the Jokerit power play, but he bought himself some more even-strength minutes.

On Wednesday, against a very good team, Räsänen played 11 minutes in another win for Jokerit. Lööv finally got his first goal for his new team, ironically on his only SOG.

On Friday, he played again, getting his usual five shifts in the first period, then six in the second, but in a scoreless tie until deep in the third, he only had one third-period shift in what ended up as Jokerit’s first regulation loss of the season. He wasn’t all that great in this game, but he doesn’t look over his head either. Lööv continued to be a volume shooter, which seems pointless to me.

Räsänen has played in five games so far, with an average of 15 shifts per game and just over 11 minutes. They hit the road to play in Riga and Bratislava this week, and I would expect him to play in both games.

Jesper Lindgren

D - 21 years old - shoots right - second season in the Liiga

Jesper Lindgren was cut from Leafs camp and loaned back to HPK in the Liiga, the team he played for last year. This was a surprise in a way, since the Leafs signing him to an ELC seemed to indicate he’d be on the Marlies. The Marlies have more defenders than two teams need, however.

He has played one game, was listed as the third pair D, but played the most minutes of any of the defence corps in a blow out loss. HPK seems to be a weak team again, and Lindgren will get lots of ice time. I’ll be looking to see some signs of improvement in his even strength play.

Pontus Holmberg

C/LW - 19 years old - shoots left - first SHL season

Växjö opened their regular season on Thursday with Pontus Holmberg centring the third line. He has been playing wing in CHL play prior to this I think. It’s always a good idea to see how the ice time ended up allocated, however, and his was 13:33 on the night, a 2-1 loss to Timrå. While that is the third highest minutes for centres, it only beats the fourth-line C by 20 seconds and is nearly identical to the second line. The team leaned hard on their top line and rotated the bottom three very evenly.

Växjö massively outshot their opponent, and slammed headfirst into a hot goalie. However, Holmberg only had one shot (the SHL lists SOG and Shots Wide, so you get individual Fenwick by adding them up). All of the shots on his line came from Jonas Röndbjerg (19, third-round pick of Vegas in 2017), and not Dominik Bokk (18, first-round pick of St. Louis in 2018), as you might suspect.

If the team keeps fielding this line, we’ll have a very good opportunity to see how the Leafs very late round choice in Holmberg stacks up to some players who are supposed to be better.

On Saturday, the kid line was back at it, and the game was painfully similar. They massively outshot their opponents and lost 1-0. Holmberg was the shooter on his line this time, and the ice time was more of a top-six and bottom-six split.

Semyon Kizimov

RW - 18 years old - shoots left - no pro experience, first year VHL

Kizimov seems to have cemented a spot for himself on Lada in the VHL. He has played 5 of 6 games, averaging almost 15 minutes and 19 shifts per game, which makes him a middle six forward. He has no points yet, but Lada are top of the standings, so if he’s not cutting it, they’d likely do something about his ice time. So far, so good.

Nikolai Chebykin

Winger - 21 years old - shoots left - third VHL season

Has not played, and is not listed on Toros website. He is probably injured.

Vladislav Kara

Winger/C - 20 years old - shoots left - third pro season, first in the KHL

Vladislav Kara is still sticking on the fourth line in the KHL for Ak Bars. His ice time has declined a little, but more because the team has been in some close games. He’s played in nine games so far and has two assists.


Vladimir Bobylyov has also disappeared from Toros’ roster after four scoreless games, so he might be injured or he might have failed to crack the VHL roster. He’s not in the class of Chebykin who is not in the class of Kara.

Martins Dzierkals has three assists in eight games for Dinamo Riga, so far, playing a depth role. He’s doing fine, and yet, it’s hard to believe he’ll get NHL interest unless he moves well up that lineup. The Leafs own his rights to next summer.

And for another reality check from Miro Aaltonen — he has 10 points in nine games playing as the 1C for Vityaz. He’s only 25, so four years older than Chebykin and Dzierkals.

That’s all for this week, next week I hope to have more than one goal to report.