The first round of the KHL playoffs finished up on Sunday, with only one series going to a game seven, and now round two is set to begin this week. The VHL playoffs have begun in Russia as well, and the rest of the leagues play their last few regular season games in the coming days.
RW - 22 years old - shoots left - fourth full KHL season
Lokomotiv needed six games to down Sochi in round one. They finished the series winning the only game not taken by the home team on Thursday after shutting out Sochi at home on Tuesday.
Yegor Korshkov, who sat out two of the earlier games, played regular minutes in both wins, and had an assist in the 3-0 win at home. He was originally credited with an assist in the final game as well, but the official summary now lists the goal as unassisted.
He looked good in both games, particularly on the power play, where he plays net front, and just can’t be shifted by the defenders. He used to be a giraffe on skates, but he’s grown into a solid, yet not oversized man. He’s not sacrificed any speed or agility for bulk, which is good, considering he plays a game much more like William Nylander than a true power forward style.
One thing I notice all the time with Korshkov is his demeanour on the ice. He is the guy who discusses things with the ref, as if he was one of the alternates, and he’s also the guy who argues with his teammates in bursts of passion. He’s on his feet on the bench, totally into the game, and always wanting to win. He acts like a seasoned pro, but one who is fully committed to winning.
In four playoff games he has one assist and has averaged only 11 minutes per game due to the one game where he was playing injured and had very little time.
Round two is a repeat of last year’s contest with SKA that ended quickly in a devastating loss helped along by some really questionable officiating. SKA struggled in their first round series this year to a surprising degree, but they boast one of the best goalies in the KHL in Rangers prospect Igor Shestyorkin, as well as the best hockey player in the world who is not in the NHL in Nikita Gusev. Oh, and Pavel Datsyuk, too, in case those two aren’t enough. They lost 13 games all season, and they will be very, very hard to play against.
Round two begins on March 13.
In case you missed it, this made the rounds yesterday, and is probably good information.
Hearing that Yegor Korshkov is set to join the #TMLtalk— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) March 10, 2019
To the best of my understanding the only time players under contract to NHL teams are loaned back to the KHL is if they are on a team in a country with a transfer agreement with the NHL. So, I believe no contract can be signed until the end of the playoffs. Korshkov’s deal in the KHL expires on April 30 of this year.
Of course, ‘set to join’ could also mean join the Marlies on a PTO.
Eronko followed up with this scouting report:
Korshkov has never been used in a role where he could develop into a legit top-6 F. He's skilled, he's strong and powerful, sometimes a beast on the boards, he's a good skater with an accurate wrist shot and there's a bit of a playmaker in him. He could become a great 3rd-liner— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) March 10, 2019
I think that’s particularly true given the Leafs/Marlies style of a third line that has shadings of both a top-six and a bottom-six quality to it.
D - 20 years old - shoots right - first year in the KHL
Jokerit, trailing three games to one heading into last week, came up with a win in game five, a game where they sat Eemeli Räsänen. The next day was his birthday, so he’s not a teenager anymore.
In game six, Räsänen was back in the lineup, but Jokerit just didn’t have the scoring or the goaltending to stave off elimination. They lost in a 6-2 blowout, and their season is over. The coach put Räsänen in for four minutes in the third period, where he managed to be on the ice for a goal for, so he has a scrap of playoff experience to end his season.
It can’t have been what he wanted, barely playing due to injury, but in the end he got all the rookie stuff out of the way and can come back next season ready to win a roster spot in training camp.
Räsänen is accustomed to the North American game, after playing in the OHL, and he has participated in Leafs summer camps before. The difficulty in fitting that into a KHL schedule, where training camp starts in August, might keep him in Finland this summer. We’ll find out.
He is under contract to Jokerit through next season, and the Leafs now hold his rights indefinitely. I think he would be allowed to come over for the Marlies season on a PTO if everyone thought that was best, but it’s not a given.
D - 21 years old - shoots right - second season in the Liiga
HPK packed three of their final four games into last week, and won two, losing the third in overtime. They are finishing strong, and they need to be. With only one game of their own to play, they are currently in fifth place, only one point ahead of HIFK and three ahead of Lukko. Since the Liiga awards three points for a win, and all teams have one game left, that’s not a safe position above place seven in the standings. The top six teams get a bye into round two of the playoffs, and teams 7-10 play off in a best of three series to make up the full eight that take part in round two. Finishing sixth is, therefore, much better than finishing seventh.
Regardless of the final outcome after games on Tuesday and Thursday to end the season, HPK is going to the playoffs. I won’t pretend to handicap the Liiga, but while HPK are a good team, they aren’t a great one, and they’ll need their best effort and some luck to go deep.
As for Jesper Lindgren, he’s finishing strong too. He owns the second pairing right defence spot now, and in the three games last week he had two assists. However, he played very few minutes in the overtime loss, and I can’t find a reason listed anywhere, so if he was hurt, I hope it wasn’t too serious an injury.
He has two goals and 17 assists in 44 games this year, with one more to go. Once his Liiga playoffs are over, he seems to be a lock to join the Marlies again, and likely stay there to start next season. No matter what, he’s had a very successful season that’s shown tangible growth in all areas of his game.
W/C - 19 years old - shoots left - first SHL season
With a playoff format like the Liiga’s in the SHL, Växjö sits in fifth place, tied in points with fourth place Djurgården and two points ahead of Skellefteå. They aren’t in much danger of dropping out of the top six with only two games left to play, but they can’t move up any higher than fourth.
The team is not finishing very strong, however. They won only one of three games last week, a 4-1 victory over Rögle. In that game, Pontus Holmberg, who has locked down the fourth-line centre job, had an assist on the game-winning goal. In the two losses, the fourth line played under ten minutes, and he had one shot on goal in each game.
With only two more games to play, the team needs to focus on the playoffs, where their noted inability to score much is going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome if they want to go deep.
RW - 19 years old - shoots left - first year in the VHL
Lada played their last two playoff games last week, losing both of them to Sokol, and going down three games to one in the first round of the VHL playoffs. Both games were close, but that’s no consolation.
Semyon Kizimov, who is the second youngest player on the team, saw his ice time cut back a lot for the playoffs, the fate of so many young prospects on the men’s teams. It might have been a mistake for the team to limit a forward capable of scoring.
He finished his first pro season with four goals and 10 assists in 48 regular season games and a scoreless three games played in the playoffs.
He is young enough to go back to junior, where he would be very overpowered, but his club’s team didn’t make the playoffs this season, so he’s done for the year. He has to consider his season a success, however, since he finished fourth in the VHL in points for players under 19. His birthday is in January, so he was 18 for most of the season. He’s under contract to Lada for another year, and his next goal has to be getting some time in the KHL.
Winger - 21 years old - shoots left - third VHL season
Nikolai Chebykin’s team won their first round playoff series, and they begin the quarterfinals today. He had one assist in the four games played so far.
Winger/C - 20 years old - shoots left - third pro season, first in the KHL/VHL
Done for the season.
That’s it for the this week, by next Monday, all the regular seasons will be over.