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European Prospect Report: Alexander Romanov records his first professional point

It was a productive week for each of the three Habs prospects.

2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

All of the active players scored points this week. For Alexander Romanov, it was his first ever pro point, whereas Jacob Olofsson keeps producing at an incredible rate for a rookie in the SHL. Jesse Ylönen had a comeback goal that hopefully raises his confidence for the upcoming week.

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

On Wednesday, Romanov recorded his first professional point of his career. It was a secondary assist, and there was still a lot left to do for the goal. Romanov passed the puck forward into the offensive zone from his own side of the red line.

With many games in rapid succession and travel all over Russia, Romanov got Friday night off when CSKA had a home game against Admiral. It was a rest that was probably needed after the start he has had in his professional hockey career. did an article with Romanov that has been translated to English, and it’s a nice way to get to know the young Russian a bit better.

CSKA is continuing to rest players, and in Sunday’s game against Amur, Romanov benefited from that to play on the second line, however still without any special-teams assignments (not that his shot was needed as CSKA won 5-0). In both games this week, Romanov averaged over 14 minutes, has been very stable defensively, and has looked more relaxed and secure in his work on the ice.

In the above clip, Romanov is working hard to box out the attacker, and he does a very good job despite being smaller than the opposing player to keep him away from the net. While Romanov does very well, there are still minor things to observe here: he jumps in a bit for the first contact, and he repeatedly uses his stick high on the back of the opponent. Being smaller gives you a bit of leeway, but I’d like to see him work smarter to minimize potential minor penalties.

Romanov hasn’t grown into a man’s body just yet, and with experience I am sure he will develop other means of keeping opposing players at bay. The important bit is to see his work ethic and that he is hard to move, even for an experienced professional.

He was also named KHL Rookie of the Week.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden

Two incredibly tough games were on the schedule for the Swedish centre this week: league-leading Linköping away and Le Mat Trophy favourite Djurgården away two days later. Timrå registered two losses, but the team, and Olofsson, played relatively well. Olofsson had another assist in the game against Djurgården, his third of the season.

This upcoming week includes a double-header against a struggling Rögle. It will bring a different mindset for Timrå as they will be the favourites and will have to drive play, whereas Rögle can rely more on the counter-attack.

Olofsson continues to eat minutes in the SHL: over 16 minutes in both games. He struggles a bit with defensive-zone reads and gets pulled out of position every now and then, and he was on for three goals against this week. It is clear that the defensive work and the tempo is very different from his time in Allsvenskan last year.

There are encouraging signs for Olofsson. Last year his work ethic was questioned, and while he might be pulled out of position with high-speed cycles from good teams, he never takes a shift off. That is the message he needs to send to the Montreal bosses to make them interested in his progression.

Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

After last week’s games when Ylönen saw limited ice time and looked frustrated at times with some silly minors against him, he stepped up his game for the two games this week. He started with another goal, his third of the year, against a team that really misses a star centre who seems to have taken up residency in Montreal.

What is important to look at this week is Ylönen’s time on ice, which is increasing again. He seems to have gotten back the trust of Coach Nieminen, which is important going forward.

However, Ylönen is struggling on the third line, especially against teams that are evenly constructed with four good lines. The shots are not coming as often as they used to, and they are coming further away from the high-quality areas. It might just be that Ylönen is getting adjusted to Liiga compared to Mestis, as when he does score the goals are from within the home plate area.

Ylönen continues to play with the blue helmet as the team’s top-producing U20 player.

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

Injured in the off-season, he is expected to return at the end of December or early January.