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European Prospect Report: Oliver Kapanen nets his first Liiga goal

Several prospects hit the scoresheet over the past week.

Oliver Kapanen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

Kapanen played two games this week, and managed to get two points. His first Liiga goal came on a two-on-zero breakaway, and he was clinical as he shot the puck over the goalie’s pad but under the glove.

Even if KalPa was totally outplayed by Ilves (where Joni Ikonen plays), Kapanen got an assist in the 5-2 loss as well. The play from the fourth line was good, even if the backhand is lucky to get a bounce and go in.

The two points from Kapanen should bode well for his confidence going forward. Getting both your first goal in Liiga and your first assist in the top league in the same game is a good start for a player who needs to work himself up the roster in KalPa.

Dmitri Kostenko, Khimik, VHL, Russia

The big defender gets a chance on every power play. He has a good shot, as he demonstrated in one of the games this week. Using both his own player and the opponent in front of the net as a screen, he netted a power-play goal.

He plays a solid defensive game, albeit a risk-averse one. Being as big as he is, I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of a physical element from him.

The one negative thing that stands out is that his skating is not strong. While he is better than Alexander Gordin on his skates, I would say that his edgework is slow and measured rather than the explosive movement of Alexander Romanov, Kostenko’s size probably makes his skating look more awkward, but it is his main thing that he needs to work on going forward.

Alexander Gordin, SKA-1946, MHL, Russia

The hard-shooting forward returned to the ice in Russia more or less at the same time as last week’s EPR was published, and a three-point week is a decent return. However, Gordin didn’t have a chance to get any spotlight on him as 2023 NHL Draft phenom Matvei Michkov also returned to the MHL and scored five points in two games.

Gordin got to play on the official first line, but it was the Michkov line that really was the main contributor. Skating is still a bit to work with for Gordin, even if his skating has become better during the summer, but it can not be easy to develop when you have a world-class talent on the same team, playing at the same position. It will be interesting to see if Gordin can take the next step forward now that he is back on the ice.

Frederik Dichow, Kristianstad IK, Hockeyallsvenskan, Sweden

‘The Gnome’ got his second win with an impressive performance against Västerås. He controlled his team and the opponent especially in the third period of the game when Kristainstad was just holding on to a lead. The Montreal prospect was calm and collected when the pucks came flying, and he never really had to make any amazing saves. His positioning was good, he read the game well, and his calm demeanour made his defence play better.

He may not be the best goalie prospect in the system, but it is good to see him having developed and adjusted in order to become a better player over the last year. He seems to be the number-one goalie at the moment, but Olof Lindblom played in the second game of the week as the team took another important win away to AIK.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden

Timrå lost three games this week, and it brought their streak of futility up to eight. It was clearly evident in the game against Färjestad that Olofsson was low on the pecking order as he only played 5:02 of the game. He still struggles with his adjustment to the wing. He glides in toward the centre and leaves a lot of ice to be covered.

Timrå will have their next game on Thursday against Örebro, where a 16-year-old Leo Carlsson scored his first SHL goal this past weekend. Someone to follow closely for the 2023 NHL Draft, which is shaping up to be another one loaded with talent.

Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda HC, SHL, Sweden / Montreal Canadiens, NHL

Still injured.