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European Prospect Update: Champions Hockey League playoffs for every Habs prospect

It was a good week, which saw goals from every prospect but Lukas Vejdemo. While we still wait for his first point of the season, the European prospects are off to a running start.

Sparta Praha

Last weekend was the last round of the group stage in the Champions Hockey League. It had already been decided that Frӧlunda and JYP were through to the playoff round, but it was important for Sparta Praha and Djurgården to win their games in order to make sure they would qualify for the next stage.

In Prague it was an honest game filled with respect and good play, whereas in Stockholm it turned ugly. In the end all Montreal prospects are given the chance to excel on the international stage for another round, with both Djurgården and Sparta securing wins.

The Stats

week2

season week2

Joonas Nättinen, JYP Jyväskylä

Joonas played well in the game against Frӧlunda and scored a goal in the game. Nättinen has stood out in his development over the summer. A move home and playing on the top line in JYP seems to have been a very smart move and he is clearly enjoying playing another type of hockey.

Lukas Vejdemo, Djurgarden Stockholm

Lukas got the chance to lead the first line for Djurgården in the match against Zug (Switzerland), no points recorded and I am sorry to say that I did not observe the game; it was however a dirty game with some really bad knee tackles from the Zug players. A  week before SHL starts Vejdemo does however seem to have a roster spot locked down, he has been playing on every spot (RW,C, LW) and on all lines but the 4th line which should mean that he is safe when injured players comes back.

Artturi Lehkonen, Frolunda Gothenburg

The young Finn has been very good during the whole CHL and pre-season games for Frӧlunda. He has clearly benefited from an injury free summer and taken a step forward in his development of the game. So far he has been deployed higher up on the ice, also moving from a net presence at the power play to a play making position has clearly had a good impact as well. It will be very interesting to see if the trend continues when SHL starts.

He currently has two game winning goals in the CHL, one against JYP and one against Sheffield, and in the last game against Sheffield he was the man of the match. A few noted on Monday that he was playing cente in the last game something Frӧlunda reported in the pre-view on Saturday (and tweeted out by yours truly at the time), this happened as Frigren was rested and Lundkvist was not going with the team as his wife is expecting their child.

It was a one off in order not to have a U18 player go in and play center in a what was expected to be a bit of a dirty game in front of a very partisan crow in Sheffield.

Martin Reway, Sparta Prague

Martin scored a lovely opening goal in the first couple of minutes against Geneve-Servette in CHL, it was his first goal of the season and it was clear how much it meant for him to get the monkey off his back. He scored on a penalty shot later in the game to make the score 4-2.

Between the goals however he suffered some defensive breakdowns, and as someone mentioned in the comments "I saw him fail to clear the zone kind of lackadaisically and it resulted in an ugly goal," highlighting one of the weaknesses of Reway, his defensive play. Reway was on the ice for both Servette goals, and while one was on him the other was not his fault at all. He finished the game with the man of the match award (rightly so) and hopefully another strong season is on the horizon for the young Slovak.

*****

The draw for the CHL playoffs has taken place, and we now know the match ups for the next round:

Vejdemo's Djurgården will face the Växjo Lakers, Reway's Sparta Praha will compete against the Zurich Lions, Nättinen's JYP will play versus TPS Turku, and Lehkonen's Frölunda will meet ERC Ingolstadt.

This will be a tough draw especially for Vejdemo and Djurgården as they will face off against the current SHL Champions in what could be a bridge too far for the young team of Stockholm.

JYP will face Turku in another match between two teams from the same country, JYP is most likely the favorite here as TPS finished below them last season, and JYP finished second in their group behind one of the Favorited teams to win it Frölunda, whereas Turku won their group in a not spectacular fashion.

Frölunda won there group and will be delighted with a trip to Germany, it will be an easier draw than it could have been (there was some tough teams still in the draw at the time Frölunda came up). Ingolstadt beat Växjo Lakers in the group, but should still be an  game Frölunda should win, and German fans could easily travel over to Gothenburg resulting in some nice income.

The best game of the four will undoubtly come between Sparta Paraha and Zurich Lions, it’s almost a derby travel will be easy for both set of fans and they are plentiful and it is a good draw for a team that placed second in the group. Not easy, but also not unbeatable. This is a game where the atmosphere will be great.

Interestingly enough the game of the first rould will be Luleå vs Färjestad; two teams that are among the favourites to win the SHL this season. Frölunda ended up in that quarter of the draw which means that the two teams that were in the final last year won’t be this year.

The first game will be on September 22, and the return leg is on the October 6.