3 Stars of the Week: European Edition

Since I left five weeks ago, the Rangers have seemed to turn the corner. The Rangers have played admirably in Mika Zibanejad’s absence and added Marek Mazanec to their goaltending ranks in order to strengthen the goalie situation in Hartford. Speaking of prospects, here are The Three Stars of the Week: European Edition.

Honorable Mention – Dominik Lakatos
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Lakatos appears to be receiving the AV treatment in the Czech Republic. After putting up back to back multi-goal games in early November, Lakatos began to consistently receive less than 10 minutes of ice-time in games that he was not a healthy scratch. I cannot speculate on the reasons as to why one of the team’s leading scorers was given that treatment, however, it is strange to see someone who seemed to be finding their scoring touch, spend most of his time on the bench or pressbox, especially given Liberec’s lack of scoring. In addition to the lack of ice-time, Lakatos has been bounced up and down between Liberec and their “minor league” affiliate, HC Benatky. Lakatos has not let that slow him down though, as he has put up points in both games for HC Benatky (1G, 1A).  Hopefully, Lakatos will be back with Liberec full-time soon.

TPS

3rd Star of the Week – Patrik Virta

Virta continues to be one of the better Rangers prospects flying under the radar. Already this season, Virta has surpassed his assists total from last year,12, with 15 helpers in 31 games. While his goal scoring has dropped off, with only six tallies in 30 games, Virta should easily surpass his point total from last year. Since the beginning of December, Virta has four points (2G, 2A) while continuing to dominate in the faceoff circle and playing a solid two-way game. As one of the youngest players on the team, Virta is third in assists and is tied for third in total points. Virta is beginning to look like a steal for the Rangers as the 207th overall selection this past year and could push for a roster spot as soon as next year.

Adam Ihse / TT

2nd Star of the Week – Lias Andersson

While Lias Andersson’s season has not gone quite as planned, Andersson has continued to show why he was the Rangers seventh overall selection. As a 19-year-old playing for Frolunda, Anderson has scored 14 points (7G, 7A) in 22 games. He is currently fifth on the team in points in fewer games than any of the other leading scorers and is on pace to shatter his point totals from last year while maintaining the highest +/- on the team. What is especially impressive is how Andersson has rebounded since his early season struggles.  Andersson started the season with zero points in his first four games and only four points (2G, 2A) in his first ten games. Since then, Andersson has really started showing his scoring touch with ten points (5G, 5A) in his last twelve games, including this goal. Watch as Andersson scores from the low slot here.

Andersson has shown enough to be named to Team Sweden’s 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. It is expected that he will assume a leadership role and possibly be named Captain. I know that to most fans Andersson’s season will be seen as a disappointment because he is not centering the Rangers third line. However, the Rangers are showing patience and allowing him to develop in the best way they see fit. Who knows, if Andersson continues to play at high level, maybe he will be a depth trade deadline “acquisition” for the Rangers.

SKA

1st Star of the Week – Igor Shestyorkin

Igor Shestyorkin, or as I like to call him, Azor Ahai, The Prince that was Promised, was just named to his second straight KHL All-Star team.

This season Shestyorkin has played in 20 games (16-1-3) and has posted a .941 SV% and a 1.57 GAA. Although an injury kept him from playing for most of November, Shestyorkin did not skip a beat when he returned to the net, earning a 3-2 victory on November 29th, stopping 28 of 30 shots. I for one, cannot contain my excitement about the prospect of a seamless transition between the King and the Czar.