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European Report: Everyone is back on the ice

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All the injured have returned, Carl Grundström scored, the mysteriously absent are playing, and it’s all strangely normal.

Toronto Maple Leafs Head Shots
If you see this man, he’ll likely be at the net.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Now that the World Junior Championships is over, we can look back over at Europe and catch up on those prospects. There’s good news aplenty here this time, as both Carl Grundström and Pierre Engvall came back from injury on Boxing Day.

Carl Grundström

Before he had his knee surgery in December, Carl Grundström had a difficult start to his SHL season. He missed so much time while at Leafs training camp, he walked into a season already in progress. The team didn’t do well at first. They were also trying to work Lias Andersson (yes the medal thrower) into the mix, as he had just come back too.

The knee injury interrupted Grundström’s season just when Andersson and Rasmus Dahlin were leaving the team for the WJC camp. As of now, everyone is back and ready to go for the final 18 games of their season, which start up after a short break on January 11.

Before his injury, Grundström had 5 goals and one assist in 11 games, and now he’s added two more goals in the six games he’s played since coming back. He’s never going to be an assist man. This is his game:

Frölunda is in a playoff spot, and Grundström will get a chance to play in another set of playoff games this season. He’ll have more playoff experience than most of the Leafs soon. Even if they go all the way, he’ll likely be done in time to join the Marlies again if he’s healthy, and that’s what the team decides is a good idea.

Yegor Korshkov

A month ago, I did a more indepth look at Yegor Korshkov’s season this year over last. I’ve seen a tweet floating around of the rah-rah kind that decided to only count his points during the most recent upturn in his season. Unless you can offer up a good reason why those first 20 or so games shouldn’t be counted, I’m going to keep taking the bad with the good, and looking at the complete picture. It’s not like he had mono or something.

He has had a better second half of the season for sure, and his season is almost done but also won’t be over for months. This is going to be a very interesting experiment in setting the playoffs after a long layoff in the KHL this year.

Lokomotiv, as of Sunday morning, have played 47 games. They play seven more before January 22 and then they don’t hit the ice again until February 27. They play two regular season games after the Olympic break and then, boom! Playoffs begin in March.

They are in a playoff spot now, can’t finish in the top two, but likely won’t fall below fourth in their Conference, and it will be very interesting to see how the non-Olympic team players fare in their long layoff. One assumes the teams have something planned to keep up training and mental focus.

As of now, Korshkov has eight goals and 14 assists in 45 games. At the 36 game point where the article above is set, he had 16 points. He’s added one goal and five assists in the eleven games since. At some point, you just have to say that his KHL point rate this year is sub .5 per game. And with nine games left, that’s not likely to change.

Playoffs will be the real test. How will he handle that break, and how will he do on return?

Pierre Engvall

Pierre Engvall came back from a broken clavicle that required surgery a lot sooner than expected. He rejoined his team on Boxing Day, and he’s played four games since he’s been back.

Prior to the injury, he was a 10 minute a night fourth liner, but he’s played a bit more since returning. HV71 had some players at the WJC too. Engvall got a goal and an assist in his most recent game, so that’s a very positive sign.

He has two goals and four assists in 12 games played this year. If he’s going to make a splash, it will have to be now.

Jesper Lindgren

Jesper Lindgren got to go to Davos and play in the Spengler Cup just after Christmas, but now it’s back to business.

He is stuck on five points (one goal) in 34 games and he has almost the worst Corsi percentage on his team. And yet, a lot of that is the team. He’s not incompetent. He can play as second or third pair defence and is very good on the power play. He is also only 20 and in his first pro year.

He has 23 more games to play, so his season has much more opportunity for him to improve than some of the others.

Nikolai Chebykin

Chebykin’s team was on a long break from just before Christmas until this coming week. In 18 games now for Dynamo St. Petersburg in the VHL, he has four goals and three assists.

Vladimir Bobylyov

Bobylyov has finally got in some games. He’s played 10 matches for his new VHL team, getting fourth line minutes, and has one assist.

Vladislav Kara

Vladislav Kara is having a good year on a not very good VHL team. He’s had a bit of a points drought lately, but he’s still playing top six minutes, and he has seven goals and four assists for 11 points in 19 games. He is one year younger than Chebykin and Bobylyov, remember.

The only downside to his season is that his team traded the player he was showing some chemistry with, but it’s very clear Ak Bars is concerned only with KHL success right now. That said, they obviously think Kara is worth paying attention to for training and development.


Persons of Interest

Igor Ozhiganov

There’s not much to say about a defender who doesn’t score, but he did make the all-star game last year (he scored a lot more in bigger minutes last season)