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European Prospect Report: Gordin’s SKA crashes out of the playoffs, Olofsson’s Timrå marches on

Some prospects’ seasons begin to wrap up in Europe.

Tommy Holl TT

Alexander Gordin, SKA-1946, MHL, Russia

SKA was dropped out of the playoffs by Loko in what must be considered a disappointment for the team, even if Loko has one of the best development programs in Russia. Loko won the series 3-1, and Gordin had two goals and one assist.

This report should really be about Gordin’s wristshot. It is heavy, deceptive, and, most of all, accurate. All three points came from the same area of the ice. The goals were both power-play goals, while the assist (a rebound) came at five-on-five.

The power of the wristshot is incredible. He looks almost relaxed when taking it and it really does look like he is looking for a passing lane, making it incredibly tough for the goalkeeper.

The second goal could be a carbon copy of the first. Just switch the colours on the sweaters and it is the exact same play. The shot goes off like a striking cobra, fast and out of nowhere. He seems to be able to place the puck near the posts with surgical precision making it even harder for the opposing goalie.

The assist is eerily similar too; same spot. While the goalie saves it, he can’t cover the rebound, and there are two SKA players in front of the net to get the puck in.

The prolonged off-season (as SKA-Neva didn’t make the playoffs) should mean that there is a lot of time for Gordin to work on his weakness: his skating. Miss Gillian Kemmerer told Montreal fans that SKA “does not seem to have the same worries as you have [in regards to his skating],” so it is time for SKA’s development team and skills coaches to get to work.

Next season should see Gordin in the VHL, and maybe even the KHL for a few games, but the big question is if he can have a bigger impact on a bigger stage down the line. He is bigger than Martin Réway and Joni Ikonen, but he shares that same wristshot that carried the two prospects early in the careers. Can Gordin succeed where the other two haven’t, and take the next step toward the KHL, and then the NHL, further down the line?

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

Timrå faced a hot goalie who nearly caused a huge upset in the best-of-five quarter-finals of HockeyAllsvenskan in AIK’s Claes Endre. The 25-year-old goalie had a breakout series and could be a target for SHL teams looking for a backup. Olofsson’s Timrå sealed the series with an overtime win on Sunday night.

Olofsson has been stable, secure, and played his role well. Unfortunately, he hasn’t carried play in the opponent’s zone, something I would have liked to see. His defensive work is good and solid, but the player with an offensive upside has taken a step back and is a team player. This isn’t something bad, but it lowers the expectations of him progressing towards the NHL a bit. The one negative goal he was on the ice for was not his fault, the other players lost their count and Olofsson still had his player covered up the ice, as the puck was down low.

Timrå will now choose which team to face in the seven-game semifinal series, an added spice to the playoffs.

Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden

Frölunda faced SHL regular-season winners Växjö on Monday evening and lost a close game 3-2. The play looked better, and Frölunda’s failure was that they kept sending players to the sin bin.

Norlinder was involved in a lot of things offensively and secure defensively. He started the play to set up Frölunda’s second goal, and was even used to quarterback the six-on-five play when Frölunda had pulled the goalkeeper.

The reason for Norlinder’s limited minutes was the fact that Frölunda got a five-minute (plus a game) penalty, a two-and-two, and another minor penalty. As Norlinder doesn’t play on the penalty kill, his minutes were limited already from the start.

Joni Ikonen, Ilves, Liiga, Finland

Ilves had a week off, as the schedule has been changed doe to COVID protocols.