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Catching up with Winnipeg Jets prospects overseas

Checking up on the prospects in the KHL, SHL, Liiga, DEL and HockeyAllsvenskan.

With the NHL and AHL seasons delayed here in North America a number of Jets prospects are currently playing on loan with other clubs in Europe and Russia in the KHL, SHL, Liiga, DEL and HockeyAllsvenskan.

Players on loan:

1. David Gustafsson – The Jets 2nd rounder from 2018 is playing in the Swedish HockeyAllsvenskan (2nd tier) Tingsryds AIF.  He’s played four games with one goal and four assists.  He’s averaging almost 20 minutes per game which is good news considering he last played with the Moose seven months ago.

Here is a Q & A with Gustafsson from last week with Sports Expression.  It is in Swedish but google translate will give you some insight.

Photo Credit: Colby Spence (Illegal Curve)

2. Ville Heinola – Winnipeg’s 1st rounder from 2019 was loaned to Lukko Rauma where he has played four games with two assists for the club in liiga which is the team he played with last season after he returned to Finland following his first pro stint in North America.  Like Gustafsson he too is averaging just under 20 minutes per game which will be a big benefit whenever hockey returns for the 2020-21 season in the NHL/AHL.

3. Mikhail Berdin – The always entertaining Jets prospect goalie who was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 Entry Draft was loaned to SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.  He is 3-2-2 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.67 GAA.

4. Leon Gawanke – The 2017 5th rounder from Germany was loaned to the Eisbären Polar Bears of the DEL but unfortunately for the prospect the starting date for the German league, which was originally scheduled for November, has been postponed with a goal to start in mid December.  Unfortunate circumstances for Gawanke but he will at least have the benefit of training with the hockey club.

5. Joona Luoto – While not considered a prospect like the above four players the Finnish forward was loaned to HIFK Helsinki where he has played five games and has two assists.  Getting playing time is especially important for him given the surgery he had which ended his first pro season in North America and he’s averaging just over 19 minutes a game.  He hadn’t played a game since January 19th with the Manitoba Moose.

6. Arvid Holm – After signing his three-year ELC with the Jets back in June the 2017 6th round goalie prospect was loaned to Farjestad BK in July.  This is the same club he played for during the 2019-20 season.  So far he’s got one win and two losses with the Swedish club a 3.45 GAA and a .906 save percentage.

Other Jets prospects in Europe:

1. Santeri Virtanen – A Jets 4th rounder from 2017 he is starting his third season in liiga with SaiPa Lappeenranta and has one assist through four games.  He’s averaging 16 minutes per game.

2. Henri Nikkanen – At the 2019 Entry Draft Nikkanen, who was seen as a prospective 1st rounder, fell to the Jets in the 4th round as he dealt with injuries during his draft season.  That’s led to a very motivated prospect who currently has one goal and one assist in two games with Jukurit Mikkeli of the liiga where he is averaging just over 20 minutes of ice time per game. Of course Nikkanen was also selected by the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL in the CHL import draft so perhaps he will be back in Manitoba when the WHL gets going.

3. Simon Lundmark – Another Swedish 2nd rounder (2019) for the Jets who we didn’t see at last year’s prospect development camp.  He is starting his third season with Linkopings HC of the SHL.  He has averaged just under 10 minutes of ice time through two games.

4. Anton Johannesson – The Jets added to their Swede prospect pool at the 2020 virtual draft selecting Johannesson in the 5th round.  The left shot defenceman has yet to play for HV71 J20

5. Daniel Torgersson – The Jets showed off their penchant for Swedish 2nd rounders as Toregesson, taken in the 2nd round of last week’s 2020 virtual draft, marked the third straight year the Jets took a Swede in the 2nd round.  He began the 2020-21 season with Frölunda HC J20 scoring four goals and adding five assists in 10 games and has now played two games with Frölunda HC although he’s been limited to an average of 3:22 of ice time.

Up in the air:

1. Kristian Vesalainen – The Jets 2017 1st rounder hasn’t been able to find a spot to play overseas yet according to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. It would seem that some teams are wanting players who will commit to a full season but given the talent of the Finnish winger it is a surprise that he hasn’t found a spot to play.  This simply means he is in the same boat as other prospects like Dylan Samberg, Jonathan Kovacevic, Skyler McKenzie, etc who will have to continue to train for the next pro season without the benefit of game action.