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Maple Leafs European Prospect Report: Last man standing

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The playoffs rolled over one prospect, but another is on to the next round.

2015 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Yegor Korshkov

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

These exhibition games ramp up through to the end of April, and are tuneups for the World Championships in May. The Russian B-team will gradually add players as KHL teams are eliminated, or the Russian Hockey Federation may just decide to suddenly switch to their main national team at the start of May.

Eemeli Räsänen

D - 20 years old - shoots right - first year in the KHL

On the Marlies.

Jesper Lindgren

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

When last we left Jesper Lindgren, he was in the quarterfinals of the Liiga playoffs and up two games to none on TPS. HPK lost game three in overtime, but won the next two, moving them into the semifinals against Tappara. The semis are going to be a whole order of magnitude harder than the quarters were for HPK.

The Liiga is the only league that plays a bronze medal game, as far as I know. So the two losing teams of the semifinal series play a single game to decide third place. That game is April 19, with the final round between the semifinal winners beginning the next day. One way or another, Lindgren will be busy until then.

His one goal and one assist in five games played in the playoffs puts him 15th in points for defencemen. His regular-season, super-charged Corsi has tumbled down to 46.6% as he faced one good team every night.

The semifianls begin April 4.

Lindgren, who is on an ELC right now, will likely join the Marlies if they’re still in action when late April sees his season end in Finland.

Pontus Holmberg

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

Pontus Holmberg was in the opposite position to Lindgren last week. Växjö had lost their first two games, and were in tough against a very good team in Luleå. They lost the next game in Luleå in a shutout, and then just barely won one at home in overtime on a goal by Dominik Bokk. But the game on Saturday was the last for Holmberg and his team as they lost 4-1 and are out of the playoffs.

Holmberg finished the playoffs with seven games played, no points, and only four shots on goal in just under 12 minutes per game played. That’s about the same minutes as Bokk, but he had two goals and an assist. Bokk is clearly the better offensive talent, and the wide disparity in their draft positions is not a mistake, but Holmberg played his first SHL season finding a valuable fourth-line role and earned a lot of trust from his coach.

Holmberg is under contract to Växjö for another season, and we might see him in Toronto this summer at prospect camps. Training camp starts much earlier over there, so it’s difficult for a player to fit his European offseason into a North American schedule.

I think Holmberg’s post draft season was a success, if not a flashy one. He worked his way onto the Swedish junior team, played well, and stuck on Växjö for the full season as a rookie. Next year, he just needs to top that. No pressure.

Semyon Kizimov

RW - 19 years old - shoots left - first year in the VHL

Done for the season.

Nikolai Chebykin

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

Playing in the semifinals, with one more assist so far.

Vladislav Kara

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

Done for the season.


With one prospect left in the game, there won’t be much to cover in the next month, so I’ll likely wait until Lindgren’s semifinal is over for the next edition of the report.

Next season, one of these players who the Leafs have indefinite rights to will vanish off of this report. I think we know who Nikolai Chebykin is, and I don’t find I’m learning anything new about him anymore than I could if I looked up Fabrice Herzog’s stats. Cap Friendly is now showing Martins Dzierkals as being under indefinite rights due to his return to Europe, and he’s not getting a contract of any type either, and there’s no real news to be had following his European career.

The overwhelming majority of players drafted in the second round or later never even have an AHL career. It is not a surprise, an outrage, or proof of bad drafting that some players taken in late rounds have levelled out at high ECHL/low AHL ability. It’s also not a surprise that those players would rather play in Europe than in the ECHL.

Good luck to Jesper Lindgren in the semis, and we’ll see you when I know how that worked out.