While most hockey fans are waiting with bated breath for the start of the IIHF World Junior Championship later this week, there is still some great hockey being played around the globe. A top Montreal Canadiens prospect had a scare over the weekend and is now dealing with an injury. A late-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs is starting to make people wonder why fell in the draft. Finally, a recent San Jose Sharks draft pick is showing off his special skill set.
Norlinder Suffers Knee Injury
Mattias Norlinder has given Canadiens fans a lot to be excited about during the 2020-21 season. The 20-year-old defenseman has been playing with Forlunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He has two goals and four points through 20 games while averaging just under 17 minutes per game in his home country’s top professional league.
Unfortunately, in their most recent game against Orebro, he played under three minutes. Norlinder fell awkwardly after losing an edge and limped off the ice. He did not return to the game after this play.
According to a report on Rakapuckar.com, no ligaments were torn and Norlinder said he feels “okay” and the injury “could have been worse.” Despite the positive report, there is still no timetable set for the exciting young defender’s return to the ice. Frolunda is on their Christmas break and does not play again until Dec. 26.
Miettinen Making a Name for Himself
The Maple Leafs may have found a late-round gem in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft when they drafted Veeti Miettinen 168th overall. The 19-year-old Finnish-born forward was touted for his speed and vision heading into this past October’s draft. He headed to North America after scoring 42 goals and 73 points in 52 games in Finland’s top junior league last season.
Miettinen finally made his debut for the St. Cloud State Huskies earlier this month when the NCHC opened their season. He and the Huskies played their final game within the Omaha, NE hub on Sunday by beating the University of Denver 3-1.
Midway through the third period, Miettinen scored the game-winning goal while on the power play. He showed off his deadly release with this snipe from the slot.
Miettinen now has four goals and eight points through his first nine NCAA games. He has been a big part of the Huskies’ early-season success. Heading into last week they were ranked ninth in the country, but after improving to 6-3-0, they should be moving up the national rankings.
Gushchin’s Beautiful Assist
Daniil Gushchin is another young European player enjoying some success in the United States. The Russian-born forward was expected to start his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Niagara IceDogs, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of plans this season.
Until the OHL begins, Gushchin has been loaned to the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League (USHL), who he played for the past two seasons. On Saturday night, he made this great pass to set up Cristophe Tellier’s opening goal.
The Lumberjacks went on to win 5-4 in overtime, snapping the Chicago Steel’s eight-game winning streak. Gushchin now has eight goals and 18 points in 12 games this season. In 105 total USHL games, he has 46 goals and 101 points.
He has shown the ability to both score goals and be a playmaker on the ice. This led the Sharks to draft him in the third round (76th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. In addition to his offensive talents, Gushchin plays tenacious defense and could be a very nice part of the future in San Jose.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.