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European Report: CHL hockey, mixed up lines, and some KHL games

Yegor Korshkov gets new linemates and the CHL keeps rolling.

2012 World Junior Hockey Championships - Gold Medal Game - Russia v Sweden
Ozhiganov in action.
Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Timothy Liljegren

Timothy Liljegren is in Toronto at the ‘unofficial’ pre-training camp practice sessions. If you’re unfamiliar with these arrangements, the CBA mandates the length of training camp so it doesn’t start for real for a couple of weeks. Teams make their facilities available to players who begin training earlier and earlier every year, and as long as no actual team coaching staff is running the show, it’s legit. Many teams, er, sorry, the players get together and hire retired players to run the practices.

Liljegren will be in the rookie tournament next week, and then he’ll move on to the real training camp in Niagara Falls. My guess is he will end up on the Marlies, but that’s just a guess, and until he’s officially not on Rögle’s roster for the entire season, I’ll keep him here on the report.

Carl Grundström

Carl Grundström played a couple more Champions Hockey League games with Frölunda. They’ve looked much better as a team in the more recent games, and that’s to be expected. This is pre-season action for them, and it takes time to get in the groove.

Grundström scored a goal against KAC, and if you find it exciting that a player on the CHL two-time champion Swedish team scored on an Austrian club, that’s fine, but I’ll just be over here saying I should hope he can score on a team that low in quality compared to his.

In the close match against Swiss club ZSC on Saturday, he played approximately five minutes and was a total non-factor.

Pius Suter, who is an invite to the Senators rookie camp, has been on fire for a very strong ZSC team. It will be interesting to see if a young Swiss-league pro can handle the level of play at that event.

Swedish press reports say Grundström is flying to Toronto on Tuesday, and his linemate Lias Andersson is also leaving for training camp with the Rangers, so it’s possible Frölunda decided to be careful with their younger players in a tough match. Devils prospect Jesper Boqvist broke his wrist in a CHL game a few days ago.

Yegor Korshkov

Yegor Korshkov is playing real hockey, unlike anyone else so far. Lokomotiv are five games into the regular season, and in the most recent game on Saturday, he played with new linemates. Alexander Polunin was not in the lineup, and may have been injured. Pavel Kraskovsky was moved down to the fourth unit, and Korshkov stayed on the second/third line with a rotating cast of the grownups on the team.

He assisted on Alexander Kadeykin’s goal in a 3-2 loss to Severstal. Kadeykin, a Detroit draft pick, is a little older at 23, and has played more KHL seasons. He’s not much of a scorer, but he is big, and isn’t as giraffe-like as Korshkov can sometimes be.

If this is a sign that Korshkov himself has earned the second/third line spot permanently, despite his linemates’ performance, that’s good. Playing with more established players is likely good for him. It’s been time to leave the junior super line behind for quite a while.

(All sources of KHL video are now geo-blocked. Only the occasional GIF will show up.)

Pierre Engvall

Pierre Engvall is getting in some gametime with HV71 in the CHL. He’s played all four of their games and has four assists on less than 10 minutes per game. Three came in one match, a loss to a DEL team, Adler Mannheim.

HV71 has lost to Adler Mannheim twice and is at risk of making an embarrassing group stage exit. Their next games are in early October, when the team will be in regular season shape, so they need a pair of wins to not get bounced.

Engvall has played well in a bottom six role at this level. The team itself has been outshooting their opponents, but not scoring or getting even adequate goaltending, so the overall system looks fine. If he can hold onto that roster spot in the SHL itself, then he’ll have done something meaningful.

Jesper Lindgren

Jesper Lindgren has three points in eight games in pre-season action for HPK, playing around 10 minutes per game. The Liiga gets going for real this Friday, and if he can keep getting in every game, that’s the first step for a defender his age who is new to the team.

Nikolai Chebykin

Nikolai Chebykin also starts playing this coming weekend. If the VHL plays pre-season, they don’t post the results, so he’s a blank slate so far.

Vladislav Kara

Assuming Vladislav Kara in the VHL, not the junior league this year, he’s in the same position as Chebykin, nothing to report so far.

Persons of Interest

Igor Ozhiganov: The CSKA defender who the Leafs have shown interest in is one of 10 defencemen on the roster. He’s not getting much playing time.

After going pointless in two games, he drew in on the fourth unit for CSKA’s sixth game of the season, a contest against the very overmatched Sibir. It’s hard to see much when watching CSKA other than the Kirill Kaprizov show, which is a hell of a thing to watch, to be sure.

Ozhiganov seems to play a competent enough game. He doesn’t stray far from the right point, puts the puck on net, which is CSKA’s style, and he moves and passes well. Nothing really stands out so far.

CSKA went up 3-0 in the first period and cruised along looking like they were on a perpetual power play — not a game to judge anything by. Ozhiganov played the sixth highest minutes of the eight defenders dressed, and did nothing exceptionally bad or good. Nikita Nesterov and Alexey Marchenko are the top pair on this team.