Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia
The Tsar went on the long road trip, and received more minutes with each game against Admiral Vladivostok (9:35), Kulun Red Star (11:27) and Amur Tigers (13:44). So far in the KHL season, there is a clear trend for Romanov’s ice time: it just keeps rising.
His play is allowing for that to happen. He handles everything right in the moment, the only small thing I have seen as a mistake so far being the two-minute minor he was called for, it could have been avoided, but if that is the one mistake that stands out, it means he really is playing well.
To illustrate this further; Romanov is one of three players on the CSKA defence who has played all nine games in the season so far (even if he has seen limited minutes) and he is one of two defenders who haven’t been on the ice for a goal against.
Coach Nikitin has to feel comfortable when he can see this from the bench, and it really shows the hockey IQ that Romanov uses to his advantage in difficult situations.
Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
Injured in the off-season, he is expected to return at the end of December or early January.
Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland
After a two-goal game in the opening weekend of the Liiga season, the second week has come with some mixed games for the Pelicans and Ylönen: a 3-0 win over SaiPa with six shots for Ylönen, to a 5-1 loss to Finnish powerhouse Tappara, where Ylönen had two shots from the home-plate area, but according to former Finnish colleagues Ylönen was “generally invisible” through the game.
This shouldn’t be taken as negative; Tappara is a very good team. But it points to the fact that Ylönen has some way to go before he can move over to North America. While part of the situation is due to the Pelicans as a team, another part of it is due to the fact that Ylönen played in Mestis last year and is still working to adapt to Liiga play, especially against the better teams.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ässät, Liiga, Finland
After taking part in previous pre-season games in Finland, Kotkaniemi is in Montreal for the rookie and training camps, and doing really well.
Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden
In his second game in the SHL, Olofsson looked better. He was more secure, and playing together with Filip Hållander (a Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick) he created chances and pressure for Timrå against the reigning champion Växjö Lakers.
However, halfway through the third period there was an unfortunate accident after a hockey play from Joel Persson, where Olofsson hit an extension of the boards at the end of the bench. Olofsson was taken out of the game and didn’t play in Saturday’s contest against Skellefteå.
Most likely Olofsson is out indefinitely due to a concussion, but I have not been able to confirm that with Coach Andersson for Timrå.