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European Prospect Report: Alexander Romanov (mostly) solid in WJC tuneup

There was one concerning play for the Russian blue-liner, while Mattias Norlinder played a safer style in the same tournament.

Russia v Switzerland : Bronze Medal Game - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

It was an international week in Europe, and not all Montreal Canadiens prospects were in action.

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

Alternate captain Alexander Romanov had a mixed performance in Helsinki. Stable and secure in the first two games, even in the 6-1 loss to Sweden, he showed both skill and made some mistakes in the last game against the Czechs.

In the first game against the host nation, Romanov was on the penalty kill, and it was the Montreal prospect who started the play that led to the opening goal of the tournament. The defender blocked the shot and moved the puck over to Russia’s strong side, where the players quickly started the counter-attack.

Romanov showed off his fast feet and good vision on offence when the teams played four-on-four, which led to his only point of the tournament.

However, later in the game he also showed nonchalance on a play where he really just gave the puck to Jan Sir, who still had a bit of work to do, but ended up scoring with ease.

Though the tournament was lost by that point, it was a disappointing effort from the defencemen versus what, on paper, was an inferior team. Romanov wasn’t benched, but no one could have faulted the coach if he had done so.

Romanov finished the tournament with an average of nearly 22 minutes a game. He wore the A for Russia, and with the exception of that one play in his own end he was solid.

Though Russia lost 6-1 against Sweden, the team looks good heading into the World Juniors. They finished second in the tournament and the only loss came when Yaroslav Askarov, the top goalie in the 2020 draft class, wasn’t playing.

Frederik Dichow, Malmö, SuperElite, Sweden

It does not seem like Dichow played for Denmark’s U20 team in Belarus this weekend.

Mattias Norlinder, Modo, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

In his first international tournament, Norlinder was careful not to put a skate wrong. The defender played all three games on the third pairing and played a secure game; one that didn’t highlight his offensive powers. Norlinder had a good chance against the Czech Republic where he got deep and received a pass near the hashmarks, but the shot was blocked.

With a lot on the line — a World Junior Championship roster spot first and foremost — it is understandable that Norlinder played a smart way even if he was brought in for his offensive skill. Showing that he can be trusted in his own end should lead to a stronger case when Coach Montén picks his squad.

In the end, Sweden won the tournament with three straight wins, and Norlinder played a role. It will be the players that can join Sweden from the AHL that decide if Norlinder will be a part of the challenge for WJC gold.

Jacob Olofsson, Skellefteå AIK, SHL, Sweden

Olofsson came down with an illness and sat out the Four Nations Tournament in Finland this weekend.

Jesse Ylönen, Lahti Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

There were no games for Jesse Ylönen this week as he wasn’t included in the national team for the Karjala Cup.

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

The Firestarter played three games during the international break in Samara with the VHL team. In three games, Khisamutdinov didn’t register on the scoresheet, but the play time was necessary in order to get back into match shape after his recent injury.

The stats are skewed as the time on ice statistic for the first game of the week is unavailable. However, we will still go with the official statistics.