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European Prospect Report: Joni Ikonen puts in his best performances of the season

A weekly update on the Montreal Canadiens prospects playing in Europe.

Johan Rylander

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga (Finland)

With KalPa’s Champions Hockey League season coming to an end with back-to-back meetings with the Stavanger Oilers, Ikonen took the chance to build up his confidence. In the games that became friendlies due to both teams having already been knocked out, Ikonen had his best performances of the season. He scored his first professional goal when he jumped on a rebound to get it past the goalkeeper from in close.

That capped off a fine game where Ikonen also showed good moves where you can tell that he still has the vision that made him a standout performer as a junior.

However, KalPa’s struggles continue in domestic Liiga play. They bested KooKoo (a team that is on the bottom half of the table) in the shootout, with Ikonen getting almost 12 minutes of ice time. KalPa followed that win up with a 3-2 loss to a top team, the second-place Kärpät, in the last game of the week, with Ikonen under 10 minutes again.

As it was the second game in two days, it may have been a logical thing to limit the rookie’s ice time in order to preserve his condition. But it seems that when KalPa struggles against teams, Ikonen’s time is usually cut early. It will be interesting to see how, or if, that changes now that CHL play won’t take up time for KalPa anymore.

Lukas Vejdemo, Djurgården, SHL (Sweden)

Another week and another impressive showing from one of the most underrated players in the Canadiens system. Vejdemo continues to perform at a level that he hadn’t achieved before. He had struggled to really lead a line before this season, but he is now a leader on every one of his shifts.

Vejdemo grabbed another goal this week, coming after a short-handed steal and a clinical finish. His relentless forecheck, vision, and hockey sense are all standing out.

Vejdemo also got an assist on the last goal of the game, taking him to six points (3G, 3A) in nine games. He had eight points (4G, 4A) in a 48-game 2016-17 season.

He is fifth in points on a Djurgården team that has started the season in a way I expected them to last year. It is clear that the big centre has taken that next step forward this summer that we all hoped, this after a season where he had the chance to learn on the job and get the experience that Coach Ohlsson clearly desired.

Arvid Henrikson, Örebro U-20, SuperElite South, (Sweden)

It’s been a week of ups-and-downs, with tennis scores for Henrikson’s Örebro. The team experienced a 6-4 loss against Växjö, a 6-0 home win against Rögle, and a 6-1 loss at home to Malmö.

While Henrikson managed a combined -2 rating over these three games, he also picked up three assists. He continues to search for goals, but it is great to see that he is starting to put points on the board and develop an offensive side to his game.

Max Friberg, Frölunda, SHL (Sweden)

Frölunda and Max Friberg have been slow out of the gate this season. While winning their Champions Hockey League group easily (and getting drawn against Liberec in the quarterfinals) both team and player have struggled in SHL play.

This week Friberg’s ice time has improved a lot, with his season average up by almost half a minute, and he seems to shine with the increased responsibility. His assist in the SHL came on a play with two potential 2018 Olympians: Joel Lundqvist (Sweden) and Ryan Lasch (USA).