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European Prospect Report: Jacob Olofsson gets on the board with his first goal

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Prospects are settling into their roles in the early stages of the European season.

Montreal Canadiens Headshots

Jacob Olofsson, Skellefteå AIK, SHL, Sweden

Olofsson has had a rough start this season, suffering a concussion late in the pre-season, getting a new assignment with his move to the wing, and seeing limited playing time as the referees have clamped down on two-minute infractions with Olofsson having lost his power-play privileges.

However, never one to shy away from adversity, Olofsson managed to score a nice goal in his fifth game of the season. The big winger showcased his strength when he held on to the puck behind the net, and, after passing it on, taking up the position in front of the net to manage a tip-in.

It should bode well for Olofsson’s confidence to get that goal in early, especially considering his limited ice time at the moment. He played just under 10 minutes against HV71 in the first game of the week, but got 12:43 TOI in the second against Växjö.

By the time you read this, Olofsson will be getting ready to play his first game of this week, when he will face off against the other Canadiens prospect in the SHL, Mattias Norlinder.

Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden

No points for Norlinder in this week’s only game, but a big vote of confidence from Frölunda’s coach, Roger Rönnberg, who played Norlinder almost 19 minutes in the 3-0 win against Brynäs. Norlinder played a strong defensive game where he really used his smarts to not end up in bad situations in his own zone.

He had to cover a counter-attack and managed to get back into position fast enough, thanks to his excellent skating, to cover his player and take away the rebound.

The power play with Lucas Raymond and Norlinder as shooters was successful once more, as Raymond scored, and it is clear that defences are having some trouble knowing which player to shut down.

Frölunda has three games this week and Saturday’s derby against Färjestad should be a great game to watch.

Lukas Vejdemo, Södertälje SK [Loan], HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

Vejdemo got his second assist of the season as Södertälje demolished Kristianstad much in the same way as Rafael Nadal took down Novak Djokovic in the first set of the Roland Garros final, as the game finished 6-0.

Södertälje has started the season a bit slower than expected, especially considering the NHL loans they have, and it is good to see Vejdemo getting on the scoresheet. The centre has looked a bit rusty (as would be expected from the long off-season that he has had). It is important that his game becomes more consistent and that the points are starting to roll in if he wants to challenge for a roster spot with Montreal when the season picks up again.

Unfortunately the statistics form HockeyAllsvenskan are incomplete, hence the no average TOI for the week for Vejdemo.

Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans [Loan], Liiga, Finland

The Pelicans struggle much in the same way as they did last year, and while Ylönen is playing on the second line and getting more minutes, the team hasn’t really improved. You would consider a line with a passer like Ryan Lasch to be quite effective but the line hasn’t really gelled yet.

Ylönen got an assist when he teed up Oskaari Laaksonen for a power-play goal. With Lasch running the power play, Ylönen has gotten shifted from the bumper position to more of a shooting position. He has a good heavy shot and it will be really interesting to see if he can get to use it in this setting.

Otto Leskinen, KalPa [Loan], Liiga, Finland

Two games for Leskinen last week and he did get a nice assist when he controlled the puck well and didn’t stress to get it over to his partner on the power play. He held it and forced the forward a bit out of position before passing it back to Vartiainen, who had a better passing lane over to Pitkänen for the goal.

Leskinen seems more controlled and plays a smarter game than what I remember from before he went over to Laval, and it is clear to me that the time spent under Joël Bouchard has benefited the defender.

Joni Ikonen, Ilves, Liiga Finland

Ikonen is expected to be out seven to nine weeks more with an injury.