1OB Prospect Report: It's Tournament Time in Europe for Blue Jackets Prospects

By Paul Berthelot on November 12, 2018 at 4:02 pm
Veini Vehvilainen playing for Finland's National team

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Hockey across the pond is different. They have their regular season, of course, but there are also several national team tournaments both at the U20 level and national level. The Blue Jackets have plenty of prospects in Europe, and most of them were taking part in these tournaments recently.

Kirill Marchenko, a second-rounder in 2018, was supposed to be playing in North America this week for Team Russia in the Canada-Russia Series but was instead playing for Russia’s U20 team at the Four Nations Tournament. In three games, he scored twice.

He also scored a shorthanded empty-net goal late in Russia's win over Sweden. His coach showed trust in him defensively to put him in that spot to defend a lead, which is good; Marchenko is strong offensive player and if he can round out the defensive side of the game, he's going to be that much better.

Playing in that game for Sweden was Blue Jackets prospect Emil Bemstrom. Bemstrom did not have the same type of success that Marchenko did, though, as Bemstrom only had a lone assist in three games. This was a pretty disastrous showing for Sweden, having lost all of their games and outscored 14-2. With eight goals and 11 points in 15 SHL games, Bemstrom’s spot on Sweden’s World Junior Team shouldn’t be affected. This does, however, raise some big concerns for Sweden’s forward group as we inch closer to the WJC.

At the national level, these same scoring woes continued for Sweden. The Karjala tournament is a national team tournament featuring the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and Russia, and the Swedes finished at the bottom of this event, winning one of three games and scoring only four goals. Jonathan Davidsson scored one of those goals for Sweden:

This was Davidsson’s first time on the men’s national team, an opportunity he was very excited about.

Sweden had trouble scoring as they faced some strong goaltending from Finland. Finland won two of three games in the tournament, and both wins came via shutouts from Blue Jackets prospect Veini Vehvilainen. He made 22 saves against Sweden and also blanked the Czechs (shot data for this game was not immediately available).

The more we see from Vehvilainen, the more impressive he looks. The future of the Blue Jackets' goaltending is still playing in Switzerland (Elvis Merzlikins), but Vehvilainen is a great player to have and gives the Jackets real prospect depth at the position. 

Notes

Liam Foudy scored on Sunday, ending a five-game pointless streak. Foudy has seven goals and three assists in 14 games this season. The London Knights are a strong team and Foudy isn’t their top option, but for a first-round pick, he needs to play better.

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