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European Prospect Report: Oliver Kapanen seeks some stability

Frederik Dichow responds well to a four-goal game, while Norlinder still isn’t back after a head injury.

Austria v Finland: Preliminary Round Group A - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Oliver Kapanen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland.

The Finnish centre was used sparingly in his return to the top league in Finland after the World Junior Hockey Championship. In the two games last week, he averaged 6:30 of ice time in the two games against the Pelicans and Ilves. Kapanen was on the roster as the odd extra forward, and against Ilves was on the ice for two goals against. Neither goal can be held against him; he had his man covered on the first goal, and he just came off the bench for a breakaway against for the second goal.

The season has been interrupted on numerous occasions for Kapanen, and his minutes in KalPa have been limited at all times. One has to wonder how he sees this season; he did make the WJC team, but he hasn’t really solidified himself as a centre in Liiga. However, it is important to consider Kapanen as a long-term prospect. He will need a lot of time in Europe before crossing over to the other side of the pond.

Frederik Dichow, Kristianstad IK, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

The Dane got two games this week. In the first one he was only on the ice for 10 minutes before being replaced after letting in four goals on about as many shots. You could argue that the second goal could have been saved, but mostly it was a repeated breakdown in defensive coverage from the Kristianstad defence that caused the goals. It was defensive-zone turnovers and breakaways on repeat. Dichow took it in stride and was more bewildered when he sat on the bench after being pulled, and the coaches made sure to explain it wasn’t on him.

In the second game, Dichow posted 42 saves to take Kristianstad to 60 points on the season and secures the team a spot in HockeyAllsvenskan next year.

As mentioned on a recent podcast, Dichow will go to the Olympics with Denmark, and it will be really interesting to see him play against some better opposition. It is clear that a lot of the top SHL clubs are looking for a backup goalkeeper next year, and Dichow’s name is being mentioned in quite a few of them. The Olympics should be a good evaluation of his capacity.

Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda HC, SHL, Sweden

Norlinder left the ice 10 days ago and news has been scarce since. It is clear that the hit he received which didn’t look that serious at the time is some type of head issue. The only news Frölunda has let out is that it is “an old injury” and he did go through concussion protocol after the hit. From what sources tell me, it was similar to concussion symptoms, and he is being evaluated.

It is tough for Norlinder who has suffered from concussions all though his career. One understands that every precaution is being observed before Norlinder can return to the ice.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden

Timrå and Olofsson decided to part ways by mutual agreement. The big forward signed with one of HockeyAllsvenskan’s top teams, Björklöven. He has only managed one game with the team so far due to COVID outbreaks on opposing teams. It has been said on these pages before, and even before the season, that Olofsson would most likely end up in HockeyAllsvenskan once more. His game is not up to scratch in Sweden’s top league.

Dmitri Kostenko, JHC Spartak, MHL, Russia

In the last four games, Kostenko has seven assists, and in total has nine assists in six games in the MHL. While I understand the need for Kostenko to go down to this level to get some confidence back, I would rather see him in the VHL. Kostenko’s weakness is decision-making at speed, and he would improve on that at the higher level.

Also, Kostenko is able to use his size advantage much more in the MHL, whereas in the VHL he’s not so far ahead of his peers. Again, I understand the need for a confidence boost, and the points along with tons of ice time (he played over 30 minutes in one game) will give him that.

Alexander Gordin, HC Sochi, KHL, Russia

Gordin has accumulated 14 games in the KHL since the trade to Sochi, however, his time on ice has fluctuated from one minute to over 16 minutes. As things stand, he doesn’t get the chance to use his shot and goal-scoring touch.

It is good for Gordin to still be kept up in with KHL team, but he needs to get some development time as well, even if he is a long shot to make the Canadiens down the line.