November is behind us and Christmas looms ever more mightily. Which, for hockey fans, means only one thing: the World Juniors are near.
In terms of Canadiens’ prospects in the tournament, it would seem that only,
Zach Fucale, Jacob de la Rose (if loaned by Hamilton) Martin Reway and Arturri Lehkonen are locks to make their respective teams.
In this edition of the European prospect review, we look at how the latter two, and others, have performed in Europe leading up to the holiday tournament.
Whatever controversy may or may not have been behind Reway’s five-game absence in October, that seems well behind him now.
Not only has Reway maintained his point-per-game pace, but he also found his scoring touch, increasing his goal tally from one to five. Along with 17 assists, he now has 22 points in 21 Czech-league games. He also did well in the Champions Hockey League, with eight points in as many games, but HC Sparta Praha failed to advance to the Quarter Finals.
In addition, Reway has played three warm-up games with Slovakia’s under-20 squad, going pointless in the process.
November has been a rough month for the forward. After a promising start to the campaign, Lehkonen has only scored one point in his last nine games with Frolunda, giving him a suddenly pedestrian 11 points in 27 SHL games. His team is also in the midst of a Quarter-Final series in the Champions League
Like Reway above, Lehkonen has played some exhibition contests with the Swedish U-20 squad. His performance here provides some consolation, as the big Finn notched five points in six games.
With such an up-and-down start to the year, it will be interesting to see which version of Lehkonen shows up later this month.
Playing for last place KHL side Atlant, Andreas Engqvist certainly has to be considered a bright spot for the struggling team. Leading the team with 22 points in 32 games, the big Swede is showing that he can put up points even though he is not surrounded by elite skill.
If he continues to have a strong campaign, Engqvist could earn himself a spot on Sweden’s World Championship Roster, something which has eluded him since 2010. From there, he might have one last-gasp chance at attracting some NHL attention.
In the past editions of this review, we’ve written about both Maxim Trunev and Joonas Nattinen. Three months into the season, it is not worth rehashing what has already been said. Neither player can score and Nattinen, always pegged as a defensive forward, still can’t win many faceoffs.
Where are they now?
Inevitably, not all prospects flourish into full-time pros at the North American Level. Some choose to ply their trade in some of Europe’s top circuits, be it Sweden, Germany, Russia or the like. Others still end up in much more farfetched locales.
One such case is Michael Cichy, a 2009 seventh round pick of the Canadiens. Upon the conclusion of his five-year NCAA career, the Hartford-born forward headed towards Poland, where he now plays for KH Sanok. He’s been a useful presence on the squad, putting up 10 points in nine games.
KH Sanok has another Mike on their roster – Mike Danton – who will ring a bell with most hockey fans for two reasons: 1) he played in the NHL for St. Louis and New Jersey 2) he was convicted for conspiracy to commit murder and released on parole in 2009.
Never a dull moment in the world of hockey.