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European Report: playoffs are just around the corner

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The KHL regular season ends this Friday, and the other leagues are almost done too.

St Louis Blues v Calgary Flames
Kris Versteeg gets a mention in today’s report.
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

It’s time to catch up on the last two weeks of action. For many teams, there was a break for the last Euro Hockey Tour stop in Stockholm. The KHL got back to work after the break, and they play games today, Wednesday and Friday, and then the regular season is over. The playoff schedule has not been announced yet, but the Gagarin Cup will be handed out before the end of April.

Yegor Korshkov

RW - 22 years old - shoots left - fourth full KHL season

Lokomotiv played four games over the last two weeks, winning three and losing the fourth in overtime. They have cemented their position in third place in the West Conference — first and second are CSKA and SKA, in that order, but they have only 3 points separating them. Lokomotiv has two more games left, and they are against those two teams, so they get a hand in deciding the ultimate order of the conference.

In the four games this past two weeks, Yegor Korshkov played a solid 13 - 15 minutes in the first three and scored one goal.

In the most recent game, he played less than 10 minutes, but it seems like it might have been a planned light game as some younger players were given some shifts.

Korshkov has three goals and two assists in 17 games, and is only seconds off his average ice time from last season. His average shots on goal per game hasn’t moved off of 1.5, but he’s been shooting more lately. He has been a fixture on the third line (who play the same amount as the second line) since his return.

Eemeli Räsänen

D - 19 years old - shoots right - first year in the KHL

Jokerit, who opened the season by winning seemingly every game, have ended it barely scraping up any points. In their four games this past two weeks, they managed one win and gave up five goals in two of the three losses. They have three games left to play, but they can’t catch Lokomotiv. They can get in trouble and end up tied with the team in fifth if they lose all three of theirs, but that’s fairly unlikely.

Eemeli Räsänen played in two of the four games, although he was dressed for all of them. In one he played almost nine minutes and had two shots on goal. In the second outing, he played over 12 minutes, had one shot on goal, and brought that OHL style to the KHL by getting in a fight, although the other player got the instigator penalty.

In total, Räsänen has one goal and no assists in nine games played, and he’s averaged 10:34 minutes per game he’s played in. It remains to be seen if he’ll see any ice in the playoffs, but you never know.

Jesper Lindgren

D - 21 years old - shoots right - second season in the Liiga

HPK played four games this past two weeks, winning one and losing two in overtime. They are currently in the last playoff spot, sixth place, that gets a bye through the first round, but their position is hardly secure. They have nine more games to play, which is a lot of time for things to go wrong if they don’t start winning some.

Jesper Lindgren was listed as the second pairing defender in all four games, and he didn’t add to his points totals, but he did play 15 to 21 minutes per game.

He has one goal and 11 assists in 36 games played, and has the second highest Corsi percentage for defenders in the league who have played at least 10 games. This is the biggest change to his play from last year, and it’s held all season long.

Pontus Holmberg

LW - 19 years old - shoots left - first SHL season

Växjö played three games, and they won two (one in a shootout) and lost one. They are currently in seventh place, and if they don’t move up in their remaining 10 games, they’ll have to play in the first round of the playoffs while the better teams rest.

Växjö did something other than just practice in the week off. They went out and got Kris Versteeg, who is playing RW on their top line, and making a splash with three points in three games. He left the KHL last October for family reasons, but it wasn’t the NHL he ended up in as was rumoured. The hold-up seems to be finding someone who would buy out his contract with his KHL team once he was ready to return to playing.

With the big name coming in, the fight for ice time for the younger players is tougher, and Pontus Holmberg has been playing some third- and fourth-line wing lately. He played seven to 10 minutes per game in the latest three, and was held of the scoresheet. He’s not likely to get more ice time as the push to the playoffs rolls along. It’s tough being young in the big leagues.

Holmberg has three goals and four assists in 37 games played so far.

Semyon Kizimov

RW - 18 years old - shoots left - first year in the VHL

Lada are holding onto sixth place after leading the VHL for quite some time. They have four more games to go, so they are unlikely to move much, but the playoffs await.

In the last three games, Kizimov was held scoreless, and he played his usual amount in two games, but only 10 minutes in the most recent, a 3-0 win.

Nikolai Chebykin

Winger - 21 years old - shoots left - third VHL season

Toros has moved up into third place and will also be in the playoffs shortly. Nikolai Chebykin busted out his old scoring skills and got two goals and an assist in the two games they played in the past two weeks.

He has eight goals and four assists in 34 games on the season. He had that many points in 20 playoff games last year, so he’s definitely had a slow recovery from the injury that delayed his start this year.

Vladislav Kara

Winger/C - 20 years old - shoots left - third pro season, first in the KHL/VHL

Bars is currently just out of the playoffs, and they have a chance to move up, but if they don’t make it, it will be interesting to see if Ak Bars, the KHL team, will call up Vladislav Kara as they try to repeat as cup winners.

Kara played in five games over the last two weeks, and he had a goal and an assist in a game they won 3-1. He’s still playing almost defenceman minutes each game. He’s got the fifth highest points (16) on his team, even though he’s only played in 21 games.


With the seasons coming rapidly to a close, we should expect the youngest players to play the least and to get left off of playoff rosters on the top teams. That’s just how it is now that European clubs are using more and more junior aged players to fill out the ranks.

Remember, none of these Leafs prospects are playing junior hockey even though several of them are still young enough.