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European Prospect Report: Mattias Norlinder and Frölunda stagger towards the playoffs

The defenceman is having some difficulty, along with his teammates, getting a high-tempo game to work.

Tommy Holl TT

Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden

Norlinder had an assist this week, but unfortunately for the defender it was overshadowed by this mistake for the second goal in the game against Brynäs:

It has been a tough couple of weeks for the rookie as Frölunda really has imploded, partly due to injuries, but also because of the team’s own hubris. Frölunda wants to play themselves out of the zone, and the coaches also want the players to drive play with high-risk, high-reward skill play in the offensive zone, and this has backfired completely the last several games. In the midst of all this, Norlinder has had a baptism by fire.

He was on the ice for all three goals against against Brynäs. You can find the other two goals in the discussion of my tweet above, but they were not really any mistakes from the Canadiens prospect. On the first goal he was alone covering three attackers, and the last goal he was covering his defender on the far post as the player with the puck made a great individual move a couple of metres away.

Frölunda is struggling and they are asking a lot from their their playmaking defenders, Norlinder is one of them and is trying to step up, however things are not going his way at the moment. With more matches getting moved due to Covid situations within other teams, Frölunda will have a week off prior to the playoffs, and that could benefit the team that traditionally has blossomed in the knockout competition under Roger Rönnberg.

Jacob Olofsson, Timrå, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden

HockeyAllsvenskan finished the regular season on schedule, something that in itself is a feat this year. Olofsson had an assist earlier in the week and scored a goal in the last game of the season, taking his point totals to 20 (9G, 11A) in 36 games for Timrå. He has been relied on in defensive situations behind the dominant first line that Timrå has, a line on which all three players finished top-five in scoring.

While he was considered more of an offensive prospect at the draft, his role has changed over the years to become more of a defensive centre. It remains to be seen if he can handle the defensive assignments that should be tougher as Timrå goes into the playoffs as big favourites and looks to secure a place in next year’s SHL competition.

Joni Ikonen, Ilves, Liiga, Finland

Ilves is taking it slow with Ikonen, letting him play two out of three games every week. However after the initial points upon his return to the game, his offensive production has dried up. He has now gone 10 games without a point, and while his overall play is decent — good even under the circumstances — he has not been the offensive dynamo that many Montreal fans hoped for.

Ikonen will most certainly have a career in hockey, I just think it will be on this side of the Atlantic rather than in the North American game.

Alexander Gordin, SKA-1946, MHL, Russia

No games for Gordin this week as the MHL playoffs are about to start. SKA-1946 will face off against Almaz Cherepovets, and there were some hard-fought games at the end of the season. There is a bit of bad blood between the teams and it will be interesting to see how it pans out now that more is on the line.