Adam Engström, Rögle, SHL, Sweden
Engström was ranked 40th in our Top 25 Under 25, and I know at least one voter who would like to change his vote after having seen the defenceman’s performances at the start of the season. Engström has played in three competitions — Champions Hockey League, SHL and the Swedish U20 — and at one point played a game minutes after finishing one. That second contest was a game in which he had two assists and stood out defensively.
Engström is secure in his own end, especially against his age group, but he holds up well at the professional level also. He has scored in all three competitions, but focus for growth is on the defensive side of the game.
I can easily understand the reasons for Rögle to pursue him for a contract, and I understand Engström for choosing Rögle (even if the team has had a rough start to the SHL season).
Without taking much of a risk in saying so, I think that Engström will be on Sweden’s top pairing come the World Juniors in December.
Frederik Dichow, Frölunda HC, SHL, Sweden
As expected, Dichow has been playing sporadically in the start to the season. His real SHL debut came against Växjö and he was the player of the game as Frölunda held on for a win. While he would have wanted the one goal back, he also saved a couple of high-danger chances in the second and third period.
One thing that I have been critical of from Dichow is his temper and psyche, and it was great to see him bounce back from the goal that he should have had with a solid and secure performance afterward, whereas he previously has been susceptible to losing focus and letting in another goal shortly after the first. He finished his first SHL game with .964 save percentage.
In his second game he had a bit more trouble, though he wasn’t to blame, Leksand (Emil Heineman’s team) played smart, drawing on fast attacks with cross-ice passes, leaving the other attacker with an open net. Frölunda’s defence was most at fault for a four-goal game, leaving Dichow with an .867 save percentage.
Emil Heineman, Leksands IF, SHL, Sweden
Heineman has been attending the Montreal Canadiens’ training camp, and he has showcased what he is really good at: shooting the puck in the net. However, he has also shown that he needs to work on his defensive assignments.
Marc-Antoine Godin confirmed that Heineman will return to Leksand as soon as he is injury free.
Oliver Kapanen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
Kapanen started the season with a goal in his first game, and it took him three weeks to add his next goal and an assist on top of that. Even so, he has already bested his numbers from last year, and while he hasn’t taken the big step forward as one might have expected, he has improved, and he plays more minutes.
He is expected to play more of a shutdown role, similar to the assignment he had in the World Juniors. He is still weak in the faceoff circle, however one would expect that to change as he develops more of his physique.
Petteri Nurmi, HPK, Liiga, Finland
Nurmi had been injured since the WJC and has only played one U20 game this season, this past Friday. He played 14:08 and wasn’t on for any of the five-on-five goals against in the 3-0 loss to Lukko. However, he did see the sin-bin for quite a while; hitting an opponent in the back resulted in a two minute minor, along with a 10-minute misconduct.
It should be viewed as a good thing that Nurmi participated with the U20s this week, as it should suggest that his return to the Liiga level is imminent. The 2022 draft pick is an interesting one, especially as his trajectory is positive. We received some words from Timo Kunnari in the podcast attached below in regards to Nurmi and Kapanen.
Dmitri Kostenko, Kunlun Red Star, KHL, China
The Russian defender moved from Spartak Moscow to Kunlun Red Star, and has started the season by playing in 12 games. Hiss ice time has ranged from two minutes up to 17-and-a-half. In that time he has managed one goal, a great shot from the blue line that went straight into the SKA Saint Petersburg net.
September is usually “try out the kids” month in the KHL, and Kostenko hasn’t played in October, which makes the next couple of weeks really interesting for his development. He hasn’t been assigned to a VHL team just yet, therefore there is a chance that he stays with the main club.
Alexander Gordin, Rostov, VHL, Russia
In six games, the forward has produced two assists. The NHL career that seemed a possibility when he was drafted by the Canadiens seems to have taken every possible turn for the worse since.
Gordin has been traded to Sochi, from SKA, and he hasn’t been able to grab a roster spot there. Being sent to the VHL really implies that his development has stagnated.
The Dispatch with Timo Kunnari, and what we can expect from Oliver Kapanen in KalPa and Peteri Nurmi in HPK: