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European Prospect Report: Alexander Romanov is back patrolling the blue line in the KHL

The first weekly look at Canadiens prospects in Europe for the 2019-20 season.

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Frederik Dichow, SuperElite, Malmö U20, Sweden

The big Dane is gearing up for a long and intense season in the top U20 division in Sweden — the SuperElit. First playing regionally in the South division before the top teams in the North and South divisions are merged, as the bottom teams to fight for the last playoff spots. Like most seasons, it’s tough to predict the series as it is all dependent on what players will end up where, especially considering players like Lucas Raymond, Alexander Holtz and Noel Gunler could be making appearances for their respective U20 teams and influence the games.

Malmö IF U20’s coach Anton Blomqvist spoke with Eyes On the Prize this weekend and had some good things to say about the new addition to his team; “Dichow has looked good during the preseason. He is big, athletic, moves well and he reads the game very well. He has played five out of our seven preseason games and coming away with two wins”. While the win/loss ratio doesn’t look that impressive, Mr. Blomqvist adds, “I have high expectations on him this season as he has shown to have ability to play at a very high level. The challenge for him is to be able to sustain that level all through the season, but this is always the challenge for a young player”.

“He has the ability to be a top goalie in this league, and I have no doubt that he will have a very good season with us”. Mr. Blomqvist seems sure that Dichow will be the backbone of his team. Malmö will start the season away to Södertälje at the end of this week.

Mattias Norlinder, Modo, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

The defender returned to the ice for his first game last Friday night after having had his cast removed. The defender played at home against another team from HockeyAllsvenskan, Timrå. Norlinder was involved and didn’t seem to have any problems with his handling of the puck nor did he seemed troubled when he played physically. Modo won the game 6-2 and Norlinder got a secondary assist on this play, as the last tap from the forward didn’t seem to have counted. You can see Norlinder on the blue line wearing number 27 in the video below.

HockeyAllsvenskan doesn’t start until September 20 and Norlinder will work hard to get in even better shape before the first game of the season against Västervik.

Jacob Olofsson, Skellefteå AIK, SHL, Sweden.

While the sample size is small, the Champions Hockey League group stage is two-thirds done and should show an indication on what to expect from Olofsson. So far it isn’t a great start for the centre. While Olofsson’s average time-on-ice currently stands at 12:32 in three games, he hasn’t registered on the scoresheet and he didn’t play the last game against Grenoble. His play during the preseason has shown flashes of confidence, but Olofsson still seems to be wanting in that department. If he can shred the loss of confidence he has the potential to break out offensively on a Skellefteå team that looks very interesting on paper, but I am not sure they will be challenging for a top six position in the SHL this season.

Skellefteå starts their SHL season against the newcomer Oskarshamn on Saturday.

Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

Ikonen has been part of a KalPa team that has trashed the opposition in the last two preseason games, first beating Jukurit with 5-1 and following that up with a 5-0 win over Sport two days later. However, Ikonen’s presence wasn’t noted on the scoresheet. He was centring the third line and had a combined +2 over the games but expectations for the puck moving centre are high after his limited play in Liiga last season.

The Liiga season starts this weekend where KalPa will play Jukurit on Friday and then HIFK on Saturday, both games are being played at home.

Jesse Ylönen, Lahti Pelicans, Liiga, Finland

Ville Nieminen has used his speedy winger in almost all situations in the CHL, but especially when playing 4-on-4 or 3-on-3 where the coach has tried to maximise the effect of Ylönen’s fantastic speed and skill. Ylönen has had some breakaway chances, and has a tip in goal and an assist for all his hard work. He averages over 17 minutes a game against some tough teams in the European competition, and in a deep group where every team could go through. It is clear that the coach has confidence in him, even if Ylönen has been relegated to the third line in the last two games after having started on the second line. Pelicans had a chance in the wide open group to go through to the knockout phase, but remains outside the playoffs looking in. Pelicans will now need to beat Yunost Minsk twice to be sure to go through.

Pelicans open the season on Friday night and faces HIFK, the team that knocked Pelicans out of the playoffs last season and Pelicans will want to right that wrong in front of a passionate home crowd. The team will then finish the opening weekend of Liiga away to Jukurit on Saturday.

Arsen Khisamutdinov, CSK VVS Samara, VHL, Russia

Having been sent down from Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in the KHL when the season started must have been a disappointment for Khisamutdinov. He did play one game this week with his new team in Samara, where he didn’t register any points.

Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia

The defender has looked sharp in the first three games of the season. He has spent more time in the offensive zone, where he has used his shot to pin down the defence and create a bit of space for his teammates. He also racked up a few highlight hits:

While CSKA hasn’t started the season well, Romanov has showcased his game and in the third game of the season, coach Igor Nikitin played him more than usual. The young defender is playing with a lot more confidence and maturity compared to last season and he could force one or two defenders down in the line up if he keeps up his game at the level he showcased against Neftekhimik. While Romanov was on the ice for a goal against, he was not at fault.

In the CSKA-Neftekhimik game, no time on ice was recorded for any players so overall numbers on the KHL website are not entirely representative.