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European Prospect Report: Mattias Norlinder isn’t slowing down

The defenceman adds yet another goal to his season tally.

2019 NHL Scouting Combine Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Mattias Norlinder, Modo, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

With Victor Söderström, Rasmus Sandin, and Tobias Björnfot looking for roster spots on Team Sweden for the World Junior Championship, the Kramfors Cannon did what he could to improve his own chances.

Mattias Norlinder’s strong play continues, and with the increased confidence every game comes more composure in his own end. He plays a tight game, and recovers quickly when needed. Added to a good defensive game are his quick-thinking and offensive skills that mean he sometimes is more of a forward on the ice, especially when he joins the rush or comes in as the third player on the attack. He isn’t afraid to participate and create an error for the defending team.

He got his first assist of the season in Modo’s 5-1 win at home against ‘Vita Hästen’ when he made an easy pass in his own end.

His sixth goal of the season came on a one-timer with the pass from his mentor, Tobias Enström. The shot almost seems to go through the goalkeeper, and coach Hellqvist really should start using Norlinder more on the power play.

The Canadiens prospect leads the league in goals for defenders and is seventh in scoring in the same category, and also tied for fifth in goals among all players in the league; the same number as a highly touted prospect Jonathan Dahlén.

There was talk about Norlinder’s scoring this summer after Montreal drafted him. His reading of the game and his positioning has lent itself to an increase his shooting success.

Frederik Dichow, Malmö U20, SuperElite, Sweden

There was only one game for Dichow this week, as Alfred Hallin got two starts. In the game at home to Örebro, the Danish goalie faced 17 shots, letting in four. It seems that Malmö’s play in the offensive zone, back-ended with big defenders, keeps letting smaller, faster forwards move in to face the goaltenders with speed and forcing the goalies into more difficult situations and more acrobatic save attempts. The way the team is built means that they fail their goalies in some ways. Coach Blomqvist mentioned this in his interview with Eyes On The Prize earlier this season.

Jacob Olofsson, Skellefteå AIK, SHL, Sweden

The big Swedish centre had his best game against tough competition when Skellefteå knocked out Finnish powerhouse Kärpät in the last game of the group stage of the Champions Hockey League.

He played a very well-rounded game and he was trusted to be part of the six skaters brought out to push for an equalizer when the goalie was pulled, and he was definitely part of the goal:

It was in three-on-three play that Olofsson showed a glimpse of the offensive potential that was the main reason why Trevor Timmins drafted him, when he took on Jesse Puljujärvi and made him look like a lost puppy.

Olofsson put up another strong performance against Djurgården, where Skellefteå was victorious, but in the last game of the week Skellefteå and Olofsson were tired and the league leaders Rögle beat the guests with a clear 3-0 score.

Jesse Ylönen, Lahti Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

With the Pelicans already without a chance to go through to the knockout stage of the Champions Hockey League, Ylönen didn’t go on the trip to Minsk, staying in Finland.

It is no question that the CHL has been taxing on a team that has never participated before. The Pelicans benefited from CHL play early on in their league games, but the last few weeks have shown that the competition took its toll. They have dropped from third to seventh in the table and lost touch with the top three teams.

Ylönen has continued with his strong zone entries and he earns his time on the power play too, but the team has been drained, and that has affected the Montreal prospect as well.

Arsen Khisamutdinov, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL) / CSK VVS Samara (VHL), Russia

With an influx of new players to Neftekhimik, coach Butsayev seems to have shortened his bench early in both games played this week. With two wins, one of them against SKA, it is tough to second-guess the coach, but in the first period of his second game of the week, the Firestarter did his best to impress, making a case for more playing time with two great plays.

Update: Khisamutdinov received a minor injury in Sunday’s game, he could have continued but his coach decided against it.

He even got some time on the power play, but in the last two periods he didn’t get one second of ice time. Still, seeing these plays is interesting. It shows that he has a lot more skill than maybe previously expected. His soft hands and vision will hopefully mean that he will earn more time the further the season goes on.

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

Romanov’s usage continues to hover around the 12:30 mark, with next to no special teams play. If it is a game with fewer calls, Romanov plays more. When he plays, he is the usual safe and assured player Montreal fans have gotten to know. With the depth he is taking when the team is in the offensive zone, there could be an interesting pairing with the more offensive-minded player higher up in the article when both have matured and reached the NHL.

Romanov should be an easy pick for his national team coach for an upcoming November tournament. It will be very interesting to see how he matches up against his peers in such an event.

Injured: Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland