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European Report: up, down and out, but mostly up for a change

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There’s goals here to watch while you catch up on the prospects.

NHL: Preseason-Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Grundström

Frölunda have been busy since we last looked in on Carl Grundström. They dropped one game to HV71, and then put up a string of one goal wins that brought them to Satruday’s competition against playoff rival Skellefteå. Grundström was a scratch in this game, and I don’t see any news as to why. He played to the end of the previous game, so it’s not likely an injury.

The team has pushed up the standings a little, and sits in a playoff position, but injuries are hurting them. They are not the dominating force they want to be.

Grundström added one goal to his stat line in a win against Linköping. You can see the highlights here. You are looking for #3 in white making a very unsubtle show of being wide open while the other team ignores him. Bonus content is draft-eligible phenom Rasmus Dahlin scoring the first goal, and then there’s a short clip of his intermission interview so you can see just how young he is.

Grundström has kept up his second/third line ice time and usually shoots the most on his team (all that crashing the net). That was enough to get him first go in a shootout in his most recent game, the team won, but he failed to connect. He has 2 goals and one assist in six games played.

Yegor Korshkov

Last we looked in on Yegor Koshkov, life was kicking him in the teeth. Lokomotiv’s next game was against Ak Bars, the best team in the East, one that is fast, young, talented, and has excellent goaltending. So naturally, as hockey goes, Lokomotiv tuned them up for a 6-2 win.

Korshkov’s line played as the second unit and finally broke through to have success. Korshkov had two goals and one assist in the game, nearly doubling his season points total in one go. And I have found a video! Someone made a clip of one of his goals.

Look how happy he is to get it going again.

He added a goal in the next game, another high-scoring affair they had to win in a shootout, and his mini-streak came to an end in the next match, a tough loss.

In Saturday’s game, a nasty affair with the nastiest of rivals, CSKA, Korskov got the gate for this hit:

You are much more likely to get kicked for any checking to the head in the KHL than in the NHL. This hit looks about 50% accidental, 50% too much follow through. But even if it had been wholly accidental, he could have been tossed.

Korshkov has four goals and four assists in 23 games played, which isn’t enough, but still puts him fifth for forwards on his team. Lokomotiv still have two defencemen leading the team in points. The KHL season is rocketing past so they can have a long Olympic break. Lokomotiv is only five games away from the halfway point, so the time to make an impact is now. Just not with your elbow.

Jesper Lindgren

Jesper Lindgren’s HPK squad went on a three game winning streak too, breaking a six-game losing streak. They capped it off with a tough loss, but things are looking up again. HPK have scrapped and fought their way above the relegation line, but now they need to work even harder to get into a playoff spot.

Lindgren added a goal and an assist in this successful run. In fact, his goal came in the game that broke the streak, and I wanted to bring that to you more vividly so I looked up the official game report and popped that in the Google translation machine and....

HPK's Jesper Lindgren cried home crowd at the end of the second batch by hitting his team's lead with handsome bluefin tuna. The match finally settled for the match.

There! That’s vivid. Here’s the real bluefin tuna. You are looking for #5 in orange, the happy man after his point shot makes it all the way in.

Note also, the empty seats. I’m seeing hockey teams all over the world failing to sell out games. It’s not a cause for any kind of amusement by fans.

Lindgren still has a bad CF%, a Corsi +/- that is the worst on the team, and he has landed firmly on the second pair, not the top pairing minute eater he started out as. I don’t think it’s an accident that he started to do better when he was asked to do less. He now has one goal and two assists in 17 games played.

Nikolai Chebykin

This announcement was made this week:

The official KHL news says only this:

SKA terminated the contract with striker Nikolay Chebykin (1997) by agreement of the parties.

What this means for him, I don’t know.

To review, Chebykin had signed with SKA this summer, obviously to play on their VHL team. He got in a few games, made no impact, was sent back to junior (he just turned 20) and was obviously too good for the MHL.

Where he can go to find a fit is a tough question. He could likely play at the Liiga or Czech league level. He wouldn’t be worth using up an import spot in the Swiss league, and the SHL seems over his head by a bit. In North America, he seemed to me to be eclipsed at the Leafs rookie camp by free agent AHL-signing Kristian Pospisil, who is now in Orlando.

Vladimir Bobylyov

We learned last time that Vladimir Bobylyov had signed with a KHL team. He’s played two games, taken two penalties, got no points, and seems destined for their VHL team soon.

Vladislav Kara

Ak Bars is keeping Vladislav Kara on the main roster for now. He is being eased into top level play very carefully, getting minutes in games where the team has already won it. In their recent 7-1 romp over Traktor, he played eight minutes, his most so far in four games. In their loss to Jokerit (a powerhouse this year) he played 3 shifts.

This method of getting a rookie’s feet wet on the big club only works in a league like the KHL that dresses more skaters. You can have a player who barely plays learn the ropes at ice level. It’s not a guarantee that the ice time will rise, however. Chebykin went through this exact process on his former KHL club, and never stuck around.

So far Kara has some zeros on his stat line in very limited play in four games.

Pierre Engvall

Still out with injury recovery.