Rangers EU prospect recap: Playoffs, promotions and transfers
While the season is over for some Rangers prospects, there are a couple who still have everything to play for.
In Russia, Igor Shestyorkin was in goal for SKA in game 6 of the Western Conference Final. After going down 3-2 in the series, SKA had to win to take it to a game 7. Shestyorkin had a strong game for the team from St Petersburg and with 27 saves on 29 shots he outperformed his nemesis Ilya Sorokin who conceded 3 goals on just 17 shots.
Yegor Rykov played for the Russia Olympic team (Russia-B) this weekend against Belarus in Minsk. This was a good opportunity for Rykov to potentially earn a spot on the senior team with games against France later this month and in the Euro Hockey Tour early May.
The only goalie prospect in Europe we have, Olof Lindbom, played in the bronze medal series for the u20 team and he saved 24 of 26 shots in a 3-2 win over Frölunda. The series is a best-of-3 and Lindbom and his team have a chance to close it out in game 2.
Staying in Sweden, we have 3 prospects who were still active this week. Starting with Jakob Ragnarsson, there’s good news. Not only did he had 2 assists this week in a 7-1 win, keeping his team in the running to retain their spot in HockeyAllsvenskan (2nd tier) but today it was announced that Ragnarsson has signed a 2-year contract with SHL-team Rögle. This means we will see Ragnarsson at the highest level next season, which is great for his development.
The 3rd defenseman in Sweden also had a good week. Calle Själin was cleared to play after his concussion and was back on the ice this week to practice with the team. We did not get to see him in action for Leksands IF this week because his team defeated Mora in 5 games to win promotion to the highest level of hockey in Sweden, SHL. For both Ragnarsson and Själin it’s their first chance to play at the highest level.
Writers note: I would like to take a moment here to explain the league structure: Unlike North America, which uses a structure with closed leagues and assignments to minor leagues. Sweden has a promotion/relegation system with players contracted to individual teams. Prospects playing in Allsvenskan doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough. It just means the team that contracted them as junior players is playing at a lower level when they make the jump to pro-hockey. For both Själin and Ragnarsson, playing in the SHL will be a great boost for their careers.
Finally we travel all the way north to Luleå where Nils Lundkvist played in the SHL semi finals against Frölunda. In game 1 of the best-of-7 series the two teams were equally matched and Frölunda took an early lead with a goal from Jacob Peterson, after 6 minutes in the 2nd period. The lead did not last long, because 3 minutes later our guy Nils Lundkvist scored the equalizer, assisted by Ducks prospect Isac Lundeström.
Frölunda then battled to a 3-1 lead, which they gave up in the final minutes when Luleå scored twice to force overtime. The team from Göteborg eventually scored in overtime to take game 1 but Lundkvist was one of the best players on the ice. He finished the game with 20:29 TOI, 1 goal, 3 shots on goal and a +1. Lundkvist was not on the ice for any of Frölunda’s 4 goals. Defensively he was also very impressive in such a big game.