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European Prospect Report: Joni Ikonen gets back on the scoresheet

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The milestones continue as the Finnish forward continues his long road back.

NHL: JUL 04 Canadiens Development Camp Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Joni Ikonen, Ilves, Liiga, Finland

After two years, and a couple of days added for good measure, Joni Ikonen scored a goal in Liiga again. Ikonen opened the scoring in Friday’s game versus Ässät with a fast shot close to the post while the goalie was moving the other way.

In this week’s two games Ikonen has been playing as a centre on the third unit, a difference from last week when he was listed as a winger on the fourth forward line. Ikonen is not seeing time on any of the special team units, which is understandable as he has been absent from the game for so long. The coaches limit Ikonen to around 13 minutes per game.

There is about half the season left for Ilves, who currently sits third in the table, and Ikonen should have a chance to play in the Finnish playoffs come spring. It is an important season for Joni as Montreal holds his rights until the end of the season and will have to decide if they want to offer him a contract or not.

You can listen to a longer discussion about Ikonen in the latest episode of Habsent Minded (22:00 minutes in).

Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden

Norlinder played a good game on Saturday, while he was on the ice for one goal against he had his player completely covered and out of the situation.

On the opposite end, Norlinder was putting his skating to good use as he joined the rush, even by just gliding forward he out paced his defender who was hustling back at full speed.

A good thing in this clip is that Norlinder stays in the open ice, he doesn’t rush the net but he is always the solution for his team-mate to pass the puck. It is unfortunate that the quick shot that Norlinder gets off is saved by the blocker of the goalkeeper.

With Frölunda having one game last week, and it being against a weak Brynäs team, focus has been on training and building up for the expected playoff push. Frölunda normally struggle a bit in January as they put in a lot of heavy training in order to prepare for a deep playoff run with many tough games in a short period of time.

This week Frölunda faces some tough games as they play on the road against two top teams, Örebro and Leksand.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

The big centre is playing well, he works hard, but he is on a second power play unit. With a first unit that destroys the competition and stays out almost the full time, the easy points are tough to accumulate. When Olofsson is on the power play he works well, he moves around looking for good areas and helps create counting errors and screens.

Timrå resides on top of HockeyAllsvenskan and is looking down on the other teams. The real test for Olofsson will be how he measure up in the HockeyAllsvenskan final, and the promotion series where he will face a lot tougher competition - and it will be easier to evaluate how much his confidence has grown.

Alexander Gordin, SKA 1946, MHL, Russia.

It was a slow week for Grodin who “only” scored one goal in three games. While still being an 0.95 PPG player it is his skating and defence that stands out when you watch him play, and it is what keeps him from reaching a higher league at the moment.

Gordin is being sheltered by his coach, who prefers to use him where his upside is: in the offensive zone. In order to become something more Gordin has to improve in every way possible when it comes to his skating and defence.