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European report: jostling for playoff positions

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Most teams are struggling to keep focus with the end only weeks away.

Sweden v Russia - Bronze Medal Game - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship
Grundström pictures are all we have. Hope you’re not sick of them.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Carl Grundström

You know the “Insiders” are hard up for rumours when they resort to talking about when unsigned European prospects will make the jump to North America. But that’s what happened this past week for Grundström as he made his debut on TSN’s Insider Trading as the subject of a rumour.

On the ice, it was business as usual for Grundström. Frölunda had three games this week. They squeaked out a win on the first one against a much lower ranked team. They lost one they seemed to have in the bag to a slightly better team and then they won a squeaker on Saturday.

Grundström plays every game the same. He has three or four shot attempts, he’s in the net-front space a lot and his defensive play looks better. Some of that is undoubtedly his centre Johan Sundström. Sometimes he gets goals, and sometimes not. He’s got a routine now.

He had 0 points on the week and is now ranked eleventh in goals (tied with a whole bunch of people).

Frölunda spent some time in second place, but finished the week back on top.

Jesper Lindgren and Pierre Engvall

Engvall is still on a bit of a hot streak. Mora played twice notching a win and an overtime loss. Engvall had the game winning goal and an assist in the win and opened the scoring in the second game.

He is in ninth place in the league in points with 17 goals and 16 assists.

Lindgren’s MODO team played twice as usual, got thumped in one 5-1 and won the second in a shootout. Lindgren himself had a great week. He scored twice in the win, including the tying goal with ten minutes left to play. He also had an assist on the only goal in the loss. You can see the highlights of the win here. He is #7 in white, and he was on the ice for the first goal that started the comeback from a two goal deficit as well. Not bad for a defenceman!

He is 13th in scoring for defenders with 3 goals and 11 assists.

Nikolai Chebykin

Last week Chebykin was in the MHL scoring up a storm. This week he was on the bench watching Dynamo Moscow make a run for a higher standings spot heading into the playoffs.

In their first game of the week, they tuned up Traktor 6-2. It was 5-1 heading into the third, if ever a prospect was going to get in some icetime...but he totally did—2 shifts totalling 1:16 of play.

In their second game of the week, they tuned up Salavat Yulaev 6-2. Chebykin was on the roster, but not dressed for the game. He sat out the third game of the week as well, a 2-1 loss to Metallurg.

At 1:16 on the week, he played more than Josh Leivo, so there is that.

Persons of Interest

Kristian Vesalainen is still in the same position as Chebykin. He’s the 13th forward most of the time. He did play 8 minutes in two games, so he is finally drawing in for serious play.

Vladimir Tkachyov was his usual self in Ak Bars games, tough, relentless, and he had a very Zach Hymanesque breakaway in an overtime game that he didn’t convert on. I still like him a lot and do hope the Leafs get a chance to sign him.

Klim Kostin a draft-eligible player I mentioned last week is now out for the entire season after having surgery. That sound you hear is his draft ranking falling. I doubt he’s someone the Leafs will look at.

Timothy Liljegren the draft eligible phenom on defence who missed a lot of time due to illness is back. He played the least minutes of Rögle’s defenders in Saturday’s loss to Frölunda, but he had an assist on a key goal, and he played even when the score was close. He’s not going to drop into Leafs range, unfortunately. He’ll be a future Devil or something.