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European Prospect Report: Oliver Kapanen moves into tie atop Liiga’s U20 leaderboard

Petteri Nurmi also remains steady on the blue line, and is drawing interest from the national team.

Canada v Finland: Gold Medal Game - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images

Oliver Kapanen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland

Kapanen’s production has come in spurts throughout the season, and Friday’s game against Lukko was one such occasion. He left with two points: the game-winning goal and an assist on the insurance goal. Both are in the video below, with Kapanen in the blue helmet wearing number 91 in yellow.

It seems that the puck took a deflection off the defender on the goal, causing the goalie to completely miss a save he would normally make any day of the week. While Kapanen is interrupting the line of sight for the goalie, the assist is more of a secondary nature, and quite far from the actual goal. Still, it is important that Kapanen gets these bounces and builds up his confidence more.

He is second of the under-20 players in Liiga in points, behind Ilves’s Jani Nyman (Seattle Kraken), with the same amount of points, but one less goal. Kapanen currently shoots at 7.8%, and while he has a good shot in Junior, he hasn’t been able to transfer that into the pro-ranks, yet. When it comes to other attributes for a centre, he still needs to do some work in the faceoff circle.

The Leijonat hasn’t revealed its squad for the U20 November tournament in Czechia yet, but I expect Kapanen to be firmly in that team. It will be more interesting to follow his role in the four games that all teams will play under the new format, with two games against each opponent with Russia out and no new invitee.

Petteri Nurmi, HPK, Liiga, Finland

Another week, another good performance from Nurmi. He had two assists in the game against HIFK, a game HPK lost 3-2. You can see the first assist from Nurmi in the video below, wearing number 40 in orange.

It’s a very smart play from Nurmi as he aims to hit the net, or cause a deflection/tip from his forward, something that actually happens as the forward coming in gets the puck and then scores with a nice deke.

I was confused when Timo Kunnari said on the podcast that he thought that Nurmi could be a player for the Finnish National Team later this season, but I am starting to see it. His hockey IQ is very well developed and in a smaller tournament, one that isn’t as important to the Finns, I can see him get a roster spot.

Nurmi is probably the most interesting prospect to follow right now, as he is closest to joining the AHL than anyone else. I can see him playing an impact role for the Laval Rocket already next season.

Frederik Dichow, Frölunda HC, SHL, Sweden

The Danish goalie played solidly in the first two periods against Brynäs last Tuesday. However, he dropped two goals in the third period as Frölunda decided it didn’t have to play anymore. He came up big on one occasion after the game got tied at three, to help Frölunda win the game in regulation.

I had expected Frölunda to continue with Dichow in net as they faced the last team in the table on Thursday night, but they started Lars Johansson instead and lost the game. Johansson retained the confidence of the coaching staff for Saturday’s game, but Frölunda lost that one as well, but to no fault of Johansson.

Dichow continues to play a solid game, and he has three wins in four starts, but with starts being few and far between, you can see that he is rusty at times.

Adam Engström, Rögle BK, SHL, Sweden

In a season when everyone seems capable beating anyone, Rögle seems to be getting the short straw more often that not and is currently not far from the relegation zone. There is still plenty of hockey to be played and I expect Rögle to gel together and start stringing the wins together relatively soon.

Engström suffered a bit from the league situation this week, along with a few special-teams situations as he doesn’t play in them, leading to fewer minutes in two of the games than what we have gotten used to.

He has been rewarded with a spot on Sweden’s U20 team for the tournament in Czechia and I expect him to play big minutes.

Miguël Tourigny, Dukla Trencin, Tipos Extraliga, Slovakia

No points from Tourigny this week, and my Slovak sources say that he hasn’t stood out, neither in a good nor bad way.

Dmitri Kostenko, Kunlun Red Star, KHL, China

Kostenko added to his point collection last week as he derived an assist in one game, but more importantly he’s getting to play heavy minutes in the KHL. He logged over 13 minutes in both games, and almost 20 minutes in one of them. I’d say that the ice time speaks more than the number of goals or assists so far, but it will be interesting to see if he can keep both the production and ice time up over a full season.

Alexander Gordin, Rostov, VHL, Russia

We saw a goal for Gordin in Russia’s second league this week, his first of the season.

Emil Heineman, Leksands IF, SHL, Sweden

Leksand is waiting for Heineman’s return if it happens. So far, Leksand is playing well and hasn’t started looking for a replacement.