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Prospect Roundup: Rodion rises, the call of Karjala, Ovchinnikov on fire

There is still no concrete date set for the return of NHL action, but the next big event on every hockey fan’s mind is the World Juniors which is scheduled to get underway on Christmas day. The entirety of the hockey world will be ultra focused on the annual holiday tournament as there will be no NHL games competing for viewers’ attention, and it will be a great chance for organizations and their fans to get more familiar with some of their team’s top prospects. The Canadian selection camp will get underway on November 16th, and while there are no Leafs prospects expected to factor into their plans, there are some recent Leafs draft picks representing their countries at the Karjala Cup which got underway yesterday.

Rodion Amirov – LW/RW – Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)

Amirov’s role with Ufa has diminished in recent weeks, to the point where he’s been seeing minimal ice time as their 13th forward in the last few games. It doesn’t look as though that will be a problem at the Karjala Cup, where he played the second most minutes of any Russian forward in their first game yesterday. He started the tournament off with a beautiful goal where he broke up the play in the neutral zone before dancing up ice, cutting back to the middle and wiring a shot behind the goaltender.

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Amirov looked dangerous almost every time the puck was on his stick, with his combination of quick feet and smooth hands causing fits for the Finnish defenders.

He was also a fixture on the penalty kill in the first game of the tournament, evidence that his coaches trust him in the defensive zone as well. This tournament, as well as the upcoming World Juniors, will be a good chance for Amirov to gain some confidence and build momentum heading into the stretch drive of the KHL season.

Roni Hirvonen – C/LW – Assat (Liiga)

Since we last checked in with Hirvonen, he has played four games and added a tally in the goal column. His ice time has dipped a bit in those games, currently averaging 14:39 per game, and he has started seeing more time on the wing rather than center. He is one of several Leafs prospects that should play a key role for Finland at the upcoming World Juniors.

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Dmitri Ovchinnikov – C/RW – Sibirskie Snaipery Novosibirsk (MHL)

Ovchinnikov was out of the lineup last week with a minor injury but didn’t miss a beat upon his return, scoring two goals and adding a pair of assists in his first game back. He followed that up with a pair of points – including the overtime winner – in yesterday’s game, bringing his totals to 18 points in just 12 games. It seems inevitable that Ovchinnikov will earn a call to the VHL or even the KHL at some point this season, and if he continues his strong play he could eventually put himself on the radar for Russia’s national junior team.

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Artur Akhtyamov – G – Bars Kazan (VHL)

After getting his first taste of KHL action in a brief stint with Ak Bars, Akhtyamov has been sent back down to the VHL where he has put up some stellar numbers early on. Through six games with Bars Kazan, he has a 1.30 GAA and .940 SV% to go along with his 3-1-2 record. He is currently away from the team as he backs up Yaroslav Askarov on Russia’s U20 squad at the Karjala Cup, and he will likely fill the same role at the upcoming World Junior Championships.

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev – C – Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)

SDA didn’t need much time to get on the scoresheet in the KHL, scoring his first goal in his first game while receiving just 7:48 of ice time. He saw a bit more ice time in his second game, playing 12:36, and it will be interesting to see if his role with Torpedo grows in the coming weeks. He is likely to spend the rest of the season in Russia, regardless of what happens with the AHL, so the opportunity will be there for him to move up the lineup.

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Axel Rindell – RHD – Jukurit (Liiga)

Rindell has been eating big minutes on a struggling Jukurit team in the early part of the season, averaging 21:18 per game – second on the team behind fellow Leafs prospect Mikko Kokkonen. Through his last five games, Rindell has picked up a pair of assists and now has a goal and four assists through the first 10 games of the season. Like Amirov and Akhtyamov for Russia, Rindell is currently representing his country at the Karjala Cup where he was a trigger man on the Finnish power play in game one.

 

(Statistics from eliteprospects.com and Liiga.fi)