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European Prospect Report: Mattias Norlinder returns from injury

Jesse Ylönen adds to his goal tally, while Otto Leskinen is showing exceptional growth.

Tommy Holl TT

Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden

Frölunda’s defender made his return to the lineup after a three-week absence due to an injury sustained while on National Team duty in Helsinki. Frölunda lost the game 3-2 against a Djurgården team led by the youngsters Alexander Holtz (NJD) and William Eklund (2021 eligible). However, Norlinder made a good case for himself, playing 18-and-a-half minutes without allowing a goal against, actually playing more than his average before the injury.

While he got a lot of time on ice, he didn’t get a chance on the top power-play unit, and he had a couple of board battles where he looked to come in from a bad position. He didn’t lose the battles, but he fell down, which to me says he isn’t in proper game shape just yet. He shouldn’t be expected to be in game shape either with such a long injury break, and as Frölunda plays two games this week it will be interesting to see if his usage changes with more games.

Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans [Loan], Liiga, Finland

Ylönen ended up all alone in front of the net with two-and-a-half minutes to go, and was as cold-blooded as a cobra when he made a move that threw off the goalie and lifted in the puck for the equalizer.

The goal showed a side we don’t see very often from Ylönen, getting the goalie to bite before he puts the puck in. One also has to say that the counting error among the defence is terrible.

Ylönen played well, but he is limited in the role he has been given by the Pelicans. It would be very interesting to see what he could do higher up in the lineup. It seems that we will have to wait until he gets his chance in Laval before we see if he can succeed in that role.

Otto Leskinen, KalPa [Loan], Liiga, Finland

What is impressive is Leskinen’s defensive game. It has really improved since he last played in Liiga. His vision on the power play is still there, but his work in the defensive zone has really improved, as has his physical play.

In the game against Ylönen’s Pelicans, Leskinen was on for a goal against, but he held his attacker to the boards as his teammates lost track of their opponents.

He scored from the blue line in the game; not with his trademark heavy shot, but rather a puck that deflected off a player in front of the goalie. Interestingly enough, Leskinen didn’t hit the puck as it came to him, but stopped it and aimed for a tip-in (even if it actually deflected off a defender).

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

One game for Vejdemo this week, and its good to see him accumulate more minutes after his concussion a couple of weeks ago.

Alexander Gordin, SKA-1946 Saint Petersburg, MHL, Russia

The scroesheet held three goals in four games from Gordin, who is making a statement that he should be promoted from the MHL to the VHL. The lingering question is whether this isn’t happening because of his poor skating mechanics, as it seems he just glides around the ice and gets the puck into the net when he can.

While his goal-scoring is good, it’s the other aspects of his game that leave room for improvement, especially his skating and work ethic. Still, his finishing skill is great, as you can see in this goal:

Jan Myšák, HC Litvinov, Extraliga, Czech Republic

Against Olomouc and Dynamo Pardubice, Myšák got to play on the second line, however against Sparta Prague he was on the third line again. In all the games, he was played on the right wing.

While his time has increased, his points haven’t, and it shows how difficult it can be to transition from a Junior league to the men’s game no matter at what level. The positive is that his playing time is increasing, especially considering last week’s error of judgement when the got a 10-minute misconduct. The coach of Litvinov clearly doesn’t hold it against the Montreal prospect.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

Olofsson made his comeback to Timrå last week, playing over 18 minutes, and had a plus-one rating. He got to play on the second line in his normal centre position and was over 60% in the faceoff circle.

It shouldn’t take long for Olofsson to get back into the thick of things and start producing. Timrå has been on a roll and currently sits on top of the table, with Vejdemo’s Södertälje shadowing them a point behind.

Injured Players

Josh Brook, Krefeld Pinguine [Loan], DEL, Germany

Brook is still waiting for his first game in the DEL, and we still haven’t heard if he is back on the ice after his positive COVID-19 test.

Joni Ikonen, Ilves, Liiga Finland

Still no return to play for Ikonen.