Several European leagues are going on another break to make way for a national team tournament.
Coming up this week are the Sweden Hockey Games, part of the Euro Hockey Tour. The games run from February 9-12, and no Leafs prospects are on any of the teams, but Vladimir Tkachyov is playing for Russia.
Also coming up is the Champions Hockey League final, which is on Tuesday afternoon our time. Frölunda take on Sparta Prague, so this is a chance to see Carl Grundström and perhaps Kristian Vesalainen and Rasmus Dahlin, draft prospects for this year and next.
Frölunda had a light week with only two games. They also play today before heading into a break and resuming play on Februarly 14.
Carl Grundström’s scoring hot streak seems to have cooled right down. He played his normal 15 or so minutes in the first game of the week—a narrow victory—had his usual five or so shots, but didn’t get a point.
In the second game—a shootout loss to rival Växjö—he played fewer minutes and performed the same, still with no points.
He is now 12th in goals, four behind the league leader, and he was never a serious threat on the points race, so that is moot. Cold streaks happen, just like hot ones. If he heats back up for the playoffs, Frölunda will be pleased. In the interim, he is definitely a player that has a B game when the scoring dries up.
Jesper Lindgren and Pierre Engvall
MODO played two games, one last Sunday and then the second just yesterday.
The first one was weird. It’s impossible to tell by looking at game sheets, but what the team did is play four of the defenders, including top pairing man Lindgren, less than two minutes each in the first period, while the second pair played 14 minutes. The second and third periods evened things out a little, and it looks like a failed experiment in proving the fallacy part of the hot hand fallacy.
MODO went out to an early lead on two goals, and by the end of the game, they’d lost 3-2. Lindgren had no points because he sat on the bench in the first period.
In Saturday’s game, MODO won it in a shootout, and while Lindgren played top unit with more normal ice time distribution, it happened to be the number two unit that did all the scoring.
Lindgren has three goals and 11 assists, good for 16th among defenders in the Allsvenskan.
Mora IK played the usual two as well. On Wednesday, they met the red hot Timrå IK who boast some names you might remember from the WJC: Jens Lööke, Jonathan Dahlén and Elias Pettersson. Timrå took the game 4-2. Pierre Engvall remained poinless while playing his usual big minutes.
In their Friday game, Engvall slipped to the third line, and his cold streak continued as he had nothing on the score sheet in a 5-1 win for his team.
Engvall has 17 goals and 16 assists, and is 12th in the league in points. He has been firmly passed on the points chart by the 18-year-old Pettersson who has played eight fewer games.
Dynamo Moscow, Chebykin’s KHL team, are third in the standings after a quick trip to some European clubs outside of Russia. The won both games in Croatia and Slovakia and it seems they took Chebykin on the trip, but he did not play in either game.
The team enters a break until February 14, so a reasonable expectation was he would get in some time on the MHL junior team.
Dynamo didn’t waste any time putting him in game action, and he didn’t waste any time making the most of actually playing. He is the goal scorer here:
The MHL is also going on a break, so there are no games for the junior team until February 17. The plan for Chebykin may be to keep him on the roster through the KHL playoffs, as the junior club is well out of a playoff spot.
The first assignment of Korshkov to the IR list ran out, and Lokomotiv made an intriguing choice on the second.
On the day that was announced, Lokomotiv had one more game to play before the break and they play next on February 13. Perhaps they are just being optimistic or perhaps there’s a real chance he plays again.
Lokomotiv are the team neck and neck with Dynamo Moscow for the third place in the West Conference. Spots one and two, held by SKA St. Petersburg and Moscow CSKA, are totally out of reach. Those two teams along with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the East are the clear playoff favourites.
Persons of Interest
Frölunda are still dressing Vesalainen as their 13th forward but he is getting some ice time and had an assist on one goal this week. At less than 10 minutes per game, he would likely be better off on a team where he plays top line minutes, but he’s clearly too good for junior hockey.
His Ak Bars team is in an interesting playoff spot. They cannot fall below third, there’s too few games left, but they could take second place in the West. They did not look like a team that was trying last week, as they were beat in two embarrassing blowouts by bad teams. They don’t play again until after the break.
For something different this week, a quick look at Lias Andersson, late of the WJC, and a regular on HV71 in the SHL.
He is 147th in the league in points with six goals and five assists in 32 games played. His time on ice per game is 12:50, and that is just ahead of the bottom three regular forwards on his team. He plays very little penalty kill, a shift now and then, but he plays a full minute per game of power play. Two of his goals are power play goals. Given his ice time, his shots on goal are extremely high, outstripping many big-minute, regular forwards on the team.
He looks like, in numbers only, a very promising offensive prospect who will start getting points next year as he moves up in ice time and grows in maturity. Remember, unlike Pettersson who plays in the lower-level league, Andersson is competing with the top players in Sweden for that roster spot.
HV71 are definitely a playoff team, so he will get a chance to show off his talents there soon.
Salo is a Finnish defender who is getting a huge disparity in draft rankings right now. TSN does not have him in their top 80, Future Considerations has him just outside the first round. The site, Finn Prospects has an interview with him in English, where he talks about being the last cut from the WJC team and his season so far.
He has an okay CF% at 51%, he shoots a lot, but all his points, but one, are assists. He might be a hidden gem in the lower ranks, or he might be a one-dimensional offensive defenceman. We’ll likely hear more about him as the draft approaches.