With the 2005-2006 season getting underway in most countries, here is an early look at how some of the Canadiens prospects have started off the first few weeks. This year the Canadiens have prospects playing in five different countries, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. All players have started their season with the exception of Christopher Heino-Lindberg and Johan Eneqvist in Sweden, as the SEL opens it’s doors on the 26th.
Mikhail Grabovsky– C/LW- (21) One of the most skilled of the Euro prospects, Grabovsky’s season has taken a page out of badly written soap opera. Slated to return to Neftekhimik this summer, Grabovsky jumped ship and signed a contract with RSL champions, Dynamo Moscow although he was still under contract with Neftekhimik but had an out clause in his contract if his current coach went to another team, he would be allowed to sign with that team but NO other team. Now to make matters more interesting, somehow he also managed to sign with another team as he was inked to a contract with AK Bars where he would have teamed up with fellow Hab prospect Konstantin Korneev.
What happened next was a battle between Dyanmo and AK Bars, two of the richest teams in the Russian Super league. Grabovsky was suspended from playing with Dyanmo until his case was taken to the Russian Federation, where they ruled the contract with AK Bars was void, thus he was allowed to return to Dyanmo and would not get the two year suspension he was facing. Things didn’t end there though, as Mikhail was able to suit up for Dynamo, only to get suspended again as AK Bars chose to appeal the RHF’s decision. Once again Grabovsky was cleared of wrong doing and returned to Dynamo, picking up where he left off last season getting three points in two games.
It remains unclear what the Canadiens plans are for Grabovsky, but the team now has three drafted players from the country of Belarus, a team first in history and likely the league as well. One would expect him to enjoy a very successful season, as the gifted forward already is on pace for a career year in his third full season in the RSL, although it’s very early in the season yet. Grabovsky has 1 and four points in five games along with eight pims so far this year, one of the top scorers on the team despite missing three games due to the suspension.
Alexi Emelin– LD- (19) Last season was filled with surprises for the young blueliner, as he unexpectedly earned a spot on Lada’s defense despite being only 18 years old at the time. But ice time was hard to come by and he ended up watching most of the games from the bench as he only played in 12 games during the season. Another surprise was him earning a spot on Russia’s U-20 team, after a strong showing for them at the U-18’s the year before, it wasn’t a major surprise, but the fact that he was playing so little yet was still able to pick up his play and get a spot with the team.
This year things have already improved for Emelin as he has seen a great deal of action already, playing in six of the teams eight games after playing in only 12 games during the regular season last year. Also Emelin has tied his career high in points already, as he picked up an assist recently on a game winning power play goal. In his six games, Emelin has one point and eight pims so far, sounds like he will see regular shifts this year and should get strong consideration for Russia’s U-20 team.
Konstantin Korneev– RD- (21) Korneev has missed all eight games this year so far as he suffered a facial injury that has kept him out of the lineup. No word on when he is due back, as he suffered the injury during a preseason match. Not a good way to start the year for the young defensemen, as he needs to be signed or qualified by the Canadiens next summer, as the new rules state that drafted Euro players need to be signed within two years of being drafted and past Euro league draft picks will need to be signed as well, over a phased in period.
Oskari Korpikari– LD- (21) Korpikari is coming off a tough season last year where he has some injury troubles and military duties to attend to, which cost him playing time with Karpat thus he did not get in enough games with the team to be eligible to play for them in the playoffs, a loss for him as he would have gotten the experience of winning another league championship. He spent the rest of the season playing for Karpat’s junior team, where he was actually at one point leading the playoffs in scoring.
This year Korpikari has once again worked his way into the roster, and hopefully he can stay away from the injuries this season, as he has yet to play a full season in the FNL during the three seasons he has played so far. Things are looking good for him so far as he has already tied his career high in points with one assist this season. In 79 career games prior to this season he has a total of two points, with an assist in each of his first two seasons. This year he has played in all five of his teams games with six pims and is a +1 seeing time on the 3rd pairing.
Tomas Linhart– LD- (21) Linhart has bounced around with several teams over the last few years, spending time in the Czech elite league, the first league (mens league) and junior league as well as a season in the OHL. Last year he took a big step as he finally seemed to earn a full time stay in the elite league, playing in 29 games plus 16 playoff games, helping his team win a league championship along with teammate Jan Bulis. What was impressive was the +8 he got during the playoffs, second on the team. This year Linhart has spent most of the early season playing in the elite league, even notching a goal which ties his career high in goals with one. In the six games he’s played so far he is even with 4 pims.
Juraj Mikus– C/W- (18) Mikus enjoyed a very strong season last year while playing for SKA of the Slovak elite league, despite being only 17 for a large chunk of the season. In addition to getting ice time in the top league in Slovakia, Mikus showed he could play getting six goals and twelve points along with 16 pims and a -4, in a much tougher league then normal as some highly skilled NHLers spent the season over there. This year Mikus impressed fans with his display of natural skills at the Canadiens rookie camp. From there he has since returned to SKA where he just recorded his first point of the season, getting a goal in his sixth game along with two pims so far this year. He has seen time on the top two lines and should see a large amount of ice time this year, as well as a spot with the U-20 National team.
Christopher Heino-Lindberg- G- (20) In Sweden, Heino-Lindberg has yet to start the season, his first in the Swedish Elite league, but from the preseason reports out of Sweden things seem to be going very well for the young goalie as he is undefeated in the four games he played, facing a lot of shots, at times 40+, only letting in one or two goals. It remains to be seen just how much ice time he will receive this year as a rookie, but his team FBK is considered one of the top teams in the SEL and should hopefully have a very strong year.