It is that time of year again! Seasons are starting for various junior leagues as well as overseas and it won’t be long before collegiate hockey and the American Hockey League begin their 2018-2019 trek to the postseason. Once again there will be weekly prospects recap installments here at Die By The Blade, so be on the lookout for those as the season continues.
Marcus Davidsson, C, Djurgarden
The 2017 second-round pick has been lighting it up since returning to Sweden. Davidsson recorded three assists in DIF’s 8-2 win over Orebro on Saturday after scoring two goals in CHL action.
Linus Cronholm, D, Malmo
Linus Lindstrand-Cronholm was able to sneak into some SHL and CHL action before being sent down to Malmo’s U20 team, where he will be put in a much larger top pairing defenseman role. He will also be serving as an alternate captain.
He was able to record an assist in his first U20 game this year in a 8-2 loss against HV71. Since then, Cronholm has been able to apply 11 shots in four games for the Redhawks.
William Worge Kreu, D, Linkoping
Only playing in three games so far this season, Worge Kreu has no points and was penalized for a check to the head for which he received a misconduct.
Miska Kukkonen, D, Tappara
Kukkonen, another 2018 late round pick, is another defender that has potential to reach his respective parent club. In his first seven games with the junior club, Kukkonen has three assists and has received praise from Finnish outlets.
“He moved the puck well out of the zone, making accurate and crisp breakouts. He played with a bit of an edge, engaging physically at times and laying a couple of heavy hits in the game. While not a particularly explosive skater, Kukkonen is mobile with good foot speed... The Buffalo Sabres fifth rounder has some nice potential as a two-way defenseman – I think this pick could really pay off in a few years.”
He finds a forward on the doorstep for a fantastic assist in the first clip here.
Oskari Laaksonen, D, Ilves
The prospect story of the season so far has been the development of 2017 third-round selection Oskari Laaksonen. He finished out last season with the Ilves parent club and looks be a top defender there this year while also fighting for a spot on the Finnish World Junior team. He came into the Prospects Challenge this year with many not knowing what to expect from him. He left ranked seventh on The Athletic’s Corey Pronman Sabres prospect rankings.
“I caught Laaksonen at a U19 tournament in the second half and was really impressed by what I saw. He was an intriguing pick by Buffalo last summer after a growth spurt. He’s 6-foot-2 now, skates well, and moves the puck well. He’s got a lot of maturing to do physically and in his defensive play, but I see promise in his game. I expect he’ll be part of Finland’s U20 team next season and if he continues to develop at the same pace he could play a noteworthy role.” - Corey Pronman
Laaksonen recorded his first Liiga goal early this season and already has three points in four games on the first pair.
Matej Pekar, C, Barrie Colts
Known agitator Matej Pekar committed last minute to the Barrie Colts of the OHL, the team that drafted him in the CHL Import Draft, hoping to hone in on his offensive skills in a league where production numbers are usually high. So far, Pekar is on track to have a boosted input in the Colts’ offence while still bumping gums and throwing butts to the ice.
His OHL debut was a dandy. He scored his first career OHL goal on a mini break with a hesitation move, then added one more for good measure on a powerplay strike late in the second period, and finally capped his scoring off with a secondary assist. Then, in true Pekar fashion, he took the last penalty of the game on a roughing call in the third.
Check back next week for more updates on the Buffalo Sabres pipeline and don’t forget you can find me on Twitter at @maxwellmarko