Today’s Prospects News & Rumors column is going to take us all over the globe. We will start in Sweden to check in on a former first-round pick of the New York Rangers. We will then top in the American Hockey League (AHL), where a Florida Panthers first-rounder netted an overtime beauty. Finally, a San Jose Sharks’ goaltending prospect came up big in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
Nils Lundkvist Continues his Big Season
The New York Rangers have quite a few good young forwards in their system, but their backend is starting to catch up. With the emergence of Adam Fox and K’Andre Miller living up to the hype, the Blueshirts’ defensive corps’ future is bright too.
Lundkvist could be the next young, dynamic player on the Rangers’ blue line. He had a huge game on Saturday, leading Luleå HF to their second straight victory over HV71, factoring in all of the scoring in a 3-2 decision.
After assisting on a pair of power-play goals in the first period, Lundkvist scored the game-winning goal on a third-period power play with this blast from the left circle.
The 20-year-old defenseman has 14 goals and a career-high 32 points in 51 SHL games this season. He now has 78 career points, which are the most in league history for a defenseman under the age of 21. The Rangers drafted the skilled defenseman in the first round (28th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He has yet to sign a contract with New York.
Grigori Denisenko Scores in Overtime
Things are going well for hockey teams in the Sunshine State these days. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers are on the top of the Central Division in the NHL. In the AHL, they are sharing an affiliation, the Syracuse Crunch, after the Panthers’ new team, the Springfield Thunderbirds, opted out of the 2020-21 season.
The Crunch won their fourth straight game on Friday night by beating the Rochester Americans 4-3 in overtime. The win improved their overall record to 7-5-1-0. Syracuse built up a 3-1 lead late in the second period but could not make it stand as the Amerks came back to force overtime.
Midway through the extra session, Denisenko used his feet to create extra space and time on the ice for him to fire home a wicked wrist shot past goaltender Stefanos Lekkas.
The Panthers took Denisenko in the same draft as Lundkvist, 13 picks earlier at 15th overall. He signed an entry-level contract last spring after 10 goals and 18 points in 63 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) games over two seasons with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. He has three goals and an assist in his first five AHL games. He also made his NHL debut this season, going scoreless in two games.
Zachary Emond Makes the Highlight Reel
We move to Quebec to take a look at another member of the 2018 draft class. The Sharks used their sixth-round pick (176th overall) in 2018 to select Emond. The young netminder has not put up the greatest numbers during his time in the QMJHL, but that isn’t exactly the best league to judge goaltending stats in.
Emond came up big on Friday night in the Saint John Sea Dogs’ 5-2 win over the Moncton Wildcats. He made 18 saves as the Sea Dogs earned their fourth straight road victory and none was bigger than this one
Early in the third period, Dominic Leblanc made a great pass to set up Connor Richard at the far post, but Emond was able to quickly get across the crease and deny what looked to be a sure goal.
Emond is not 5-1-0 with the Sea Dogs after playing the first 10 games of the season with Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Overall, this season, in 16 games, he is 8-5-3 with a .887 save percentage (SV%) and 3.42 goals-against average. He has played in 207 career QMJHL games and posted a .907 SV% and 2.88 GAA.