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European Prospect Report: Emil Heineman growing into a more complete game

Heineman plays in a new situation, while other prospects settle into league play following the World Juniors.

Tommy Holl

Emil Heineman, Leksands IF, SHL, Sweden

It has been evident that Heineman has struggled to score goals in the SHL. The production hasn’t been what he nor anyone else had expected. In last weekend’s game against Malmö, Heineman had a goal and an assist.

The goal was an excellent adaptive play. While Leksand was on the counter-attack, they performed a partial line chance and Heineman joined the second wave right from the bench. Yelling as well as banging his stick on the ice, he caught the attention of his teammate and put the puck in the net with a well-placed shot.

Heineman also recorded an easy assist as the puck bounced off him to set up the empty-net goal.

Maybe that point will instill a bit more confidence in his game. It’s interesting that Björn Hellqvist uses Heineman in a defensive empty-net situation, but not in a regular penalty-killing minutes. Heineman’s skating is an incentive, and the ice is more crowded which makes it easier to not make any defensive mistakes. If he can use that as a teaching moment and build upon his potential usage, his opportunities might increase when he arrives on the Canadian side of the Atlantic.

Adam Engström, Rögle BK, SHL, Sweden

Engström was disappointed with how the World Juniors ended, without a medal in Sweden’s case. However, he has shown next to no jet lag coming back to the Swedish rinks, as he played over 17 minutes in the two games last week. In the second game, away to Oskarshamn, Engström scored a smart goal as he jumped into play in the offensive zone and let his shot go.

More importantly, Engström has played well in his defensive zone, and has adjusted well to the bigger rinks once more. It is also clear that he has tried to become more physical, playing a lot smarter, as was his aim before the season started.

Petteri Nurmi, HPK, Liiga, Finland

Since the the last game of 2022, Nurmi’s time on ice has fallen starkly, often being used as the seventh defenceman. I have to be honest that I see this as confusing. Players with bigger names have returned from injuries, but Nurmi has played well and I don’t see the logic of cratering his usage. I will try to get more information in regard to this for next week’s report.

Oliver Kapanen, KalPa, Liiga Finland

The centre played two games last week, having played one game the week before as he returned to Liiga play from the World Juniors a bit earlier than expected. Kapanen still struggles in the faceoff circle; he was below 45% in one game and under 40% in the other, though still taking 14 and 18 of them, respectively. However, Kapanen has played the same kind of defensively reliable game that you have come to expect from the youngster.

Frederik Dichow, Frölunda HC, SHL, Sweden

It has been a bit of a let down for Dichow in Frölunda as he has had to watch Lars Johansson get to play himself into shape with unlimited games throughout the fall and winter seasons. Dichow played about a minute for Frölunda in the first Champions Hockey League semifinal while Johansson got his skate fixed.

The media in Gothenburg is calling for more chances for Dichow as it will be a necessity to have two goalies ready in the playoffs. We will see what will happen in the upcoming games, but Dichow will need to get his chances as he has played really well in the games he has gotten into recently.

Frölunda’s coach, Roger Rönnberg, used the metaphor that “Dichow is really beating on that door into my office with performances like that,” after the game against Leksand in which Dichow played his best game of the season, two weeks ago.

CHL stats taken from the official website, Deutschland Cup had incomplete stats for goalies.

Miguël Tourigny, Dukla Trenčín, Tipos Extraliga, Slovakia

The strong run has slowed a bit for Tourigny. He still plays on the power play, but Trenčín struggles and is currently ninth out of 12 teams in the top division.

Dmitri Kostenko, Kulun Red Star, KHL, China

Kostenko keeps getting minutes. That’s the good thing. They are being very limited on a bad team, and that’s not a good thing.

Alexander Gordin, Rostov, VHL Russia.

Gordin has not performed in the VHL, and a certain Matvei Michkov has been traded to Sochi, which makes it an even bigger task for Gordin to break into the KHL team even if he did perfom at a lower level.