19y, Rögle BK, SHL, Sweden
The SHL season started on Thursday, and the opening night derby between fierce rivals Rögle and Malmö drew a full house. It wasn’t just the audience that was drawn to the game as scouts from five different NHL teams were present, many of them with an eye on Montreal Canadiens prospect Adam Engström.
Engström didn’t disappoint. He was on the first pairing and at the start of the second period he had taken over the quarterback position from Thomas Grégoire on the first power-play unit (the sole blue-liner as Rögle plays a 1-3-1).
The interesting part was that Engström was on the second penalty-killing unit as well, something he wasn’t trusted with last season. It is key to his development, especially with regard to his play in his own end. He showcased some of his offensive skill in that first game, but overall he played smart, and in the end he had played more than anyone else on his team when the game finished. He hadn’t put a foot wrong. He was more concerned with not making any mistakes on either side of the puck.
In the second game of the week, Engström showcased a bit more of the offensive upside that he has. He had a few chances to score both five-on-five and on the penalty kill, and he probably should have put at least one puck in the net.
However, for Montreal Canadiens fans, the important thing should be that he wasn’t on the ice for a goal against in either game, while still being the most used player for Rögle. If Habs fans and management could have written a wish list before the season the boxes has already been ticked off.
Lots of time on ice, check.
Big power play usage, check.
Penalty-kill duties, check.
If this continues throughout the season, there shouldn’t be any question of Engström’s development.
I spoke with former Canadiens player Brandon Davidson about changing ice surfaces, and got his thoughts about Engström and the development path forward to reach the NHL down the line.
18y, Växjö Lakers, SHL, Sweden
Eriksson got his second SHL season off to a stable start. While Växjö won one game and lost one, Eriksson averaged a bit over eight minutes over the two games. It is good for a fourth-line centre/winger in the SHL, and it is something to build upon.
18y, EHC Kolten, NL, Switzerland / Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Rienbacher is in Montreal for rookie camp, but until it has been decided where he’ll play he will be included in the list of European prospects.
19y, ZSC Lions, NL, Switzerland
The important thing for Rohrer was to be kept up with the Lions. The second was to score early: something he did. The boost for his confidence will be important going forward as they signed Denis Malgin just before the season, which meant Rohrer fell in the lineup.
The Lions will still have the option to play Rohrer in the U20 competition or send him on loan to their farm team in the Swiss League (second division).
20y, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
I watched Kapenen’s game away to Ässät, a game KalPa lost 6-0 and Kapanen had a -2 rating over 14:23 minutes of play. It was a game where a lot went wrong for KalPa in general and there were simple mistakes from a lot of different players on the team.
The one part that stood out for Kapanen was his 32 faceoffs, from which he had a 62.5% winning percentage.
On opening night, Kapanen scored a shootout goal. I spoke to some scouts of different NHL teams on Thursday night, and they all said, “Do you really need Kapanen to score? If he shores up his defensive game, he could be useful.” The season will have to be a statement from Kapanen, but two games in he isn’t off to a good start. However, KalPa is already struggling and is at the bottom of the table. With a new coach, it could be a rocky season for the Finnish centre.
21y, HPK, Liiga, Finland
HPK is currently in the middle of the table and Nurmi has played good though the three games. He has an assist from the power play, but was on the ice for a goal against in both 6-3 losses last week.
20y, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, KHL, Russia
In his six KHL games, Konyushkov has two assists, the second one from deep in his own zone to set up a great play for Torpedo for their final goal in a 5-2 comeback win. Bogdan averages about 24 minutes a night for Torpedo, which is impressive, however it isn’t the same as with Alexander Romanov who broke into CSKA at 18 years of age. Konyushkov is older and in a smaller team, and with an added caveat that the KHL has been diluted as foreign players chose to go elsewhere because of the war between Russia and Ukraine.
While he still does things that are impressive for a young defender in Russia, things need to be viewed in that perspective.
22y, Ryazan-VDV, VHL, Russia
Gordin is currently playing in the VHL, but producing more than he did last year.
20y, Khimik Voskresensk, VHL, Russia
Kostenko has gone from the KHL’s Kunlun to the VHL. It is not the step you want to take at this stage of your career.
18y, Mamonty Yugry, MHL, Russia
It’s interesting to see Volokhin putting up good numbers in a very good offensively minded U20 league. His 1.95 goals-against average and 92.4 save percentage is good over four games, especially considering the team has only one win in those four games. The problem is that he has Egor Zavragin in the goalkeeper rotation, who has even better numbers. Still, Volokhin will be a player to follow over the season.