There are a lot of things I enjoy about European hockey. Maybe my favorite aspect of it is that meaningful games start in mid-August; weeks before NHL training camp even opens.
After sitting for SKA’s first two regular season games, top goalie prospect Igor Shestyorkin took the net against Jokerit; one of the top KHL teams. He picked up right where he left off last season, stopping all 27 shots he faced in SKA’s 2-0 victory. Here are a few saves from the game.
The first save shows off Shestyorkin’s quick recovery ability. Shestyorkin is a bit undersized for a goaltender, which is fine because of his mechanics. His ability to immediately get up from the butterfly and return to the default upright position is key for stopping second-chance opportunities like this one.
The second save shows off his timing and athleticism. Whereas many goaltenders heavily favor their gloves, Shestyorkin’s blocker usually stands out. Shots off of cross-slot passes are incredibly dangerous, and Shestyorkin’s ability to make desperation saves like these is what give him a high ceiling.
The one area he needs to improve is his rebound control. He has progressed in that regard over the last few seasons, but he insufficiently dealt with a few shots that created unfavorable rebounds into the slot. Nothing came of them this time around, but it’s a part of his game that he’ll continue to work on.
Elsewhere, 2017 seventh-round pick Patrik Virta played for TPS (Finland) against Mountfield HK (Czech Republic) in Champions Hockey League action (yes, similar soccer’s champions league.) TPS struggled for the entire game, losing 5-1. Virta was pointless, but he was one of the few TPS players who generated much of anything offensively. His closest chances are registering a point were on this 5-on-3 shot and the following through-the-legs pass.
He also did a commendable job on the defensive side of the puck, backchecking well and tying up sticks in the slot.
Tarmo Reunanen, a 2016 fourth-round pick, only played 3:03 for TPS; all of it after TPS went down four goals. In that time he drew a penalty and made a few respectable defensive plays. Hopefully, the poor loss will result in TPS changing things up and giving Reunanen more ice-time.
Dominik Lakatos, a 2017 sixth-round pick, also played in the Champions Hockey League against the Swedish champions, Vaxjo Lakers.
There’s a fine line to walk between being a pest who benefits the team and a detriment whose antics do more harm than good. Lakatos has a nice combination of low slot scoring prowess and agitation ability, but he has to mature. Two minor penalties and 10 minutes for abuse of officials in one period is on the wrong side of the line.
Rangers’ European prospects will continue to be in action the new few weeks, and we will do our best to keep you updated on their progress.