RW - 22 years old - shoots left - fourth full KHL season
Lokomotiv are trying to roll into the playoffs in third place in the KHL West conference. No one is taking the one and two spots from SKA and CSKA (once again), but the contest for third and fourth is tight. With five more games to play spread out until February 19, Lokomotiv are in third with 78 points, and Jokerit are in fourth with 74 points and one game in hand.
In their three games this past week, Lokomotiv beat Sochi 1-0, rolled Severstal 4-2 and lost a game they likely should have to Torpedo in overtime. Torpedo is blasting ahead trying to hang onto a precarious playoff spot in the East and they played like it. I got to see some of that game, so I’ll have a little bit of a scouting report on Korshkov.
Korshkov did not play in the Sochi game, but he was definitely at the arena, as they announced him as available for autograph signing. It has seemed to me like they’re trying to not rush him into full playing time.
He came back against Severstal with a great game, notching an assist on the second Lokomotiv goal and scoring the game winner himself:
As for the overtime loss to Torpedo, Korshkov was held pointless but played 12 minutes and had two shots on goal. He’s gradually getting his shot rate up to his normal level playing less than his normal minutes, which is very positive.
Korshkov is not what people who have never watched him, but buy in hard on the “Hunter drafted big guys” meme, think he is. He’s a very agile skater around the net, and he relies on sharp turns, quick stops and puck control to both make plays and score his own goals. He plays from behind the goal line a lot (well, Russian, so...) and his straightaway speed is okay, not mind-blowing. He’s a bit iffy defensively, but find me a winger who isn’t.
In this latest game, he really had the edges working for him. He was doing all the things he does well, and looked much closer to peak performance. He was also yelling at the ref from the bench, showing off that feisty side he’s noted for. The reffing in this game was mysterious at times, to both teams, and he seems to be the guy who gets emotional about things like that.
He’s now up to two goals and two assists in 13 games played, and he’s only about one shift per game behind where he was last season.
D - 19 years old - shoots right - first year in the KHL
Eemeli Räsänen finished his rehab in the Mestis and returned to the KHL this week, and his team is Jokerit, who are duking it out for that playoff spot. Unfortunately, both he and Korshkov were out when these two teams played each other earlier in the season.
Jokerit had three games this week, and all of them count, so it shouldn’t surprise that Räsänen was “dressed but didn’t play” in the first two, which they won, one in OT.
However, in the third game against Barys, a team knotted up in its own important playoff race in the East, something happened to the Jokerit goalies, and they gave up five goals in the third period, ending up with an 8-2 loss for the unhappy Jokers.
Räsänen played over 10 minutes in this game, and somehow was on the ice for only one goal against. He played about half in the first period, almost nothing in the second when the game was close, and then five more minutes in the third when it had all gone horribly wrong. Sometime’s a blowout is a bubble player’s best friend.
With the team needing every win, we should expect some light usage in the future, but he’s back and able to play, which is the best part.
D - 21 years old - shoots right - second season in the Liiga
HPK only played one game this week, and Jesper Lindgren added an assist in the win.
He has one goal and 11 assists now in 31 games played.
HPK is sitting in a playoff spot at the moment, and it’s unlikely they’ll fall all the way out by the end of the season, but they aren’t very secure on points yet. Their regular season runs to mid-March.
LW - 19 years old - shoots left - first SHL season
Pontus Holmberg is spending most of his time on the fourth line now, and he played a few games moved over to wing. Växjö aren’t exactly in trouble in terms of playoff position, but they are within two points of being in 11th place instead of ninth, and that’s bad. They have 14 games left, however, so there’s time to get some wins.
In three games this past week, Växjö lost twice in overtime, and won one 5-3. Holmberg played around 10-12 minutes per game and failed to add any points.
RW - 19 years old - shoots left - first year in the VHL
Lada played three times, winning twice in OT and losing once. Semyon Kizimov notched one assist bringing his total to four goals and 10 assists in 41 games.
Winger - 21 years old - shoots left - third VHL season
Nikolai Chebykin’s VHL team won only one of their three games this week, but he added two assists to bring his point total to nine.
Winger/C - 20 years old - shoots left - third pro season, first in the KHL/VHL
Vladislav Kara remained in the VHL where he scored a goal and an assist in one win and an OT loss. He’s at three goals and 11 assists in 16 games played in the VHL. He’s playing over 21 minutes in most games too, more than most of the defencemen.
If you sort the VHL skaters by points per game, Kara is 42nd at .87. If you restrict it to U21 players, he’s fifth, and the four players ahead of him have all played four games or less. He’s the best player his age in the league.
But to compare Semyon Kizimov, who seems to have so few points relative to Kara, Kizimov is third in U19 players who have played meaningful minutes. Both of these players would be in junior hockey in Canada, it should be remembered.
The leagues are off for all or part of the next week, so I’m skipping next Sunday, and will come back in mid-February with only a few games left in the KHL regular season, and just in time to catch up on everyone.