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European Report: Coaches’ decisions and goals are on the menu today

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Yegor Korshkov continues the slump-busting, and there are strange doings in Sweden.

2012 World Junior Hockey Championships - Gold Medal Game - Russia v Sweden
He’s in the news again, let’s see Igor Ozhiganov playing against Max Friberg, a one-time NHL hopeful himself.
Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Carl Grundström

Odd things are going on with Frölunda. They’ve been sort of mediocre where they should dominate, and they’ve been hit by a wave of injuries to confuse things more. They had a special game last weekend where they honoured a former player, and Grundström was scratched in that game. No reason was ever given, and for the next game, he was also out as some of those injured players came back.

Frölunda lost that game 4-0 while outshooting Brynäs by a tonne. One of those sorts of games.

The next contest was on Thursday, and Grundström drew in to the lineup again, played a lot of minutes, scored a goal, and finished the game with a plus one, which is interesting given they lost 7-3 after a third period collapse.

I guess the coach thought that was interesting too, because with another injury to cover, he moved Grundström to the top line on Joel Lundqvist’s wing for the next game. While the team won it 4-0, I’m not so sure it was a successful line, with few shots taken and no points. Lundqvist is tough enough on his own, and knows exactly how to hassle a goalie (shockingly), so Grundström doesn’t really add to the party.

Grundström has three goals and one assist in eight games played. Once he gets a few more games in, it will be interesting to see if his “no assists” reputation from last season was a fluke, or a clue to his true nature as a player.

Yegor Korshkov

After a miserable start to the season, Yegor Korshkov broke out with some goal scoring last week. He’s upped the ante on that and decided to decide some games. Lokomotiv, who had slumped right along with him, are back nicely in a playoff spot, and things look better all around.

They beat Jokerit (home of Eeli Tolvanen, who is setting the world on fire, and will likely make history for rookie points in the KHL) and Korshkov’s line played well. This was the game-winning goal:

Lokomotiv then played Slovan and beat them. This was the game winning goal there:

And then they played Vityaz and beat them. And this was the game winning goal there:

Twice is a coincidence, three times is a habit, and here’s hoping he and his linemates keep it up.

Yegor Korshkov has five goals and six assists in 27 games, and that’s enough for fourth on his team for forwards by points. They have been a one line team for half the season now; if Korshkov has grabbed the second line position and is succeeding at it, that is the step he needed to take this year and good news for his team. He is just 21, we should remember.

Jesper Lindgren

HPK played two games since last week’s goal. Jesper Lindgren is back on the top pairing, back playing over 20 minutes a night, and while that’s likely good for his development, I really wonder if it’s the best thing for the team.

HPK won one and lost one, and Lindgren was kept to only a couple of shots in one game for the week. He’s still at one goal and two assists, and in the basement of his team for Corsi.

Vladislav Kara

After what I’m sure was an educational stay with the KHL club where he played a few shifts in a few games, Vladislav Kara has returned to his VHL team for two games this past week. In one, he scored two goals, and in the other, a bad loss, he at least had some shots on goal. His ice time in both games had gone up to around 18 minutes.

In more good news for him, he was named to the long list for the upcoming Canada Russia U20 series:

Cuts will come on that roster, so there is no guarantee he makes it. This tournament is the annual tour of the Canadian junior leagues by a Russian team made up of Russians in the CHL and enough from back home to make a full team.

Nikolai Chebykin

It was announced this week that Nikolai Chebykin has signed a new deal with a new VHL team, Dynamo St. Petersberg. This team has no KHL affiliate, so he is playing in the VHL and no higher. He has yet to appear in a game.

Vladimir Bobylyov

Vladimir Bobylyov, who was signed by Salavat Yulaev, was sent to the VHL where he has played 2 games, approximately 13 minutes per game, and has no points so far.

Pierre Engvall

Still recovering from injury.


Persons of Interest

Igor Ozhiganov: Igor is back because on Saturday night Elliott Friedman reported on Hockey Night in Canada that the interest by the Leafs in him over the summer has solidified into what sounds like a deal done in all but signatures on paper.

As a player under contract in the KHL, he is not a free agent until May 1 of next year, so it is a bit odd that this is coming up again now.

We covered the original reports on this last summer:

That story contains some translated comments by Nikita Kucherov that constitute the best scouting report we have so far.

Since last season, where the departure of fellow right-shooter Nikita Zaitsev opened up some ice time on CSKA, Ozhiganov dropped down to a third-pairing player behind Alexey Marchenko and Nikita Nesterov as well as others. KHL teams can run with overstocked rosters, and CSKA does this.

It’s hard to sort out what that means exactly. His team is in win-now mode, the NHLers they picked up play the KHL game at a very high level, even though they couldn’t crack NHL lineups on several teams. It’s not a strict hierarchy, however. Just because a player in one context is better than another doesn’t mean that holds in another context. No less a genuine expert than Zaitsev himself has shot down the idea that play in the KHL directly indicates NHL success.

But it is likely fair to say that this is a depth signing, not a Zaitsev-level signing. Ozhiganov is 25 and shoots right. After that, if he can cut it at all, he’s valuable.

Now that he’s getting back in the lineup regularly for CSKA, I’ll track him more closely again, but he doesn’t seem to be scoring much. He has only two assists so far this season.