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European Prospect Report: Red Cross edition

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An injury epidemic has stricken the Canadiens’ overseas prospects.

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Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden

Olofsson returned to the ice after a knee injury for the first two games of the promotion/relegation series against the underdog Oskarshamn (which, thanks to some innovative coaching, behaves nothing like an underdog). In the first game of the series, Olofsson played almost 19 minutes and was sound defensively, but not used much in the offensive zone.

In the second game, Olofsson played a bit less, though the overtime period wasn’t as long this time. He was still defensively aware and playing to not make any mistakes. Timrå’s defenders are a bit slow and not used to carry the puck, so it falls to the centres to transition the play. It means that Olofsson is deployed a bit further back than what he was last year when Timrå was in the same series earning the promotion with a better defence.

Unfortunately for Olofsson and fans of both Timrå and the Montreal Canadiens, following those toe games, he crashed into the net at practice on Saturday and was out for the third game in the series, which also went to overtime. Timrå won and does lead the series 2-1 with the next game on Tuesday.

Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

The Pelicans crashed in to the Red (and Blue) Machine from Finland’s capital named HIFK. In a tough, sometimes brutal series, the Pelicans dropped to 3-1 down, and it was a too steep a mountain to climb in order to qualify for the semifinals, going out four games to two.

Ylönen was not part of three games thanks to the injury he sustained in the first game. He did return in Game 5 and was part of the opening goal when he battled hard along the boards to free up the puck for a quick counter-attack. His efforts were rewarded with a secondary assist.

It looked like the Pelicans would have a chance to make a great comeback in the series when they tied the sixth game with four minutes to go, but as they were poised to take the deciding game to overtime, HIFK scored with less than two minutes to go to clinch the series. It was a disappointing playoffs for the Pelicans, who finished third in the Liiga table and doubtless were looking to challenge for the title.

It was also a disappointing post-season for Ylönen, who was knocked out for almost four games and couldn’t bring his A game to the ice. He was also used on the fourth line after playing on the third trio the whole season, and it seems that Coach Nieminen trusted veterans a bit more than the young guys on the roster.

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

The Tsar’s absence from CSKA in the playoffs is down to an injury, and the team doesn’t want to give out any more information than that. The club has taken a 2-0 lead against SKA Saint Petersburg in the Western Conference Final.

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

KalPa’s season finished at the end of regular season when they failed to qualify for the playoffs. Ikonen did not play the last handful games of the regular season thanks to — you guessed it — an injury. He did, however, sign an extension with the Finnish team for next season.