Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia
In the two games leading up to the playoffs, Romanov played more than he has on average during the season. In the loss to SKA Saint Petersburg, he still finished with a plus-one rating as he was on the ice for Kirill Kaprizov’s goal and none against.
There has been a lot of information regarding the Russian defender’s 2020-21 season. In Mathias Brunet’s excellent interview, Marc Bergevin stated he wants to be patient if Romanov shows up in Montreal, and wants the fans to understand that there won’t be much offensive output to be expected from The Tsar. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels put the number at 99% that Romanov comes over, similar to what KHL expert Gillian Kemmerer told us in an episode of Habsent Minded earlier this season.
Still, there is uncertainty as nothing can be confirmed from Romanov himself until May 1. He did not let his guard slip when I asked him in person in Stockholm during the Swedish Hockey Games. CSKA can negotiate during the season, but every day that passes without an extension should be positive for the Canadiens and fans looking forward to his North American debut.
CSKA goes into the Gagarin Cup playoffs as the top seed in the KHL, and looking to repeat as champions. The first matchup for CSKA is against Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod), a series that CSKA should win. In the West there is an outside chance that Jokerit could upset SKA, but most likely the winner will come from CSKA, SKA, and Bars.
Jesse Ylönen, Lahti Pelicans, Liiga, Finland
The Finnish forward was left off the roster for the last game of a season that the Pelicans would like to forget. The Lahti team made an announcement that Ylönen would join Laval right away in the AHL team’s push for the playoffs, however neither the Rocket nor the Montreal Canadiens have officially stated that he will join the team.
My understanding is that it has to do with the international transfer rules. While Ylönen can go on loan as long as his Finnish contract is valid, he can’t play in a professional league after it has expired, as the international trade deadline has passed. This would mean that Ylönen can play until April 30, but no later than that as he would have to sign a new professional contract before the transfer window has opened again.
Ylönen himself told me that he is “excited to go,” and will be speaking with Jesperi Kotkaniemi before he makes the trip overseas — if he does.
Frederik Dichow, Malmö U20, SuperElite / Malmö Redhawks SHL, Sweden
Malmö only played one game, and Dichow, who seems to be preparing himself for the upcoming playoffs, was not in net. He has alternated between hot and cold streaks during the season, and Malmö will look to him to carry them through the playoffs, together with Helge Grans, a prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft.
Mattias Norlinder, Modo, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden
Norlinder has had some setbacks in his recovery from a concussion, but last week was able to work out on a stationary bike without any lingering effects. He has started the recovery procedure, dubbed the “brain ladder” by Swedish doctors.
Arsen Khisamutdinov, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL) / CSK VVS Samara (VHL), Russia
The season has finished for The Firestarter, and it remains to be seen where he ends up next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes the step over to Laval.
Jacob Olofsson, Skellefteå AIK, SHL, Sweden
Olofsson is out for the season with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
Ikonen is also out for the season with rehab training in order to get back to hockey next year.