With the Chicago Blackhawks, not playing again until Thursday, we continue our tour through the team’s prospect pipeline by checking in on the players in Europe.
Antti Saarela, Lukko (Liiga)
Stats: 5 points (3 G, 2 A) in 11 games played
Due to an injury, Saarela has not played since our last European prospect update on Oct. 21. Lukko announced on Monday that Saarela was rehabbing but his return to action is still to be determined.
Terveystalon loukkaantumisraportti, viikko 45— Rauman Lukko (@TeamRaumanLukko) November 7, 2022
Antti Saarela – kuntoutus käynnissä, toistaiseksi poissa kokoonpanosta
Josh Kestner – arvioitu paluu kokoonpanoon joulukuun alussa#JokaPäivä #Lukko #Liiga #TerveystaloSport pic.twitter.com/3zUNfkunar
Riku Tohila, JYP U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
Stats: 16 points (12 G, 4 A) in 21 games played
Tohila finished October strong and carried that momentum into November, scoring five goals in seven games since the last update. He’s shined while playing on both the second and third lines, and has also been a key part of the power play.
#Blackhawks prospect, Riku Tohila (#18 in black) scored two goals today for @jyp_u20! Both were on the power play. #HawksProspects pic.twitter.com/KC1PuVB40b— Chicago Prospects (@Chi_Prospects) October 23, 2022
Ilya Safonov, Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)
Stats: 12 points (9 G, 3 A) in 24 games played
In his last seven games, Safonov has tallied five points (4 G, 1 A) while playing on the second line for Ak Bars Kazan. The very physical forward is not afraid to do the dirty work: it’s not uncommon to see him establish net-front presence and dominate in the crease. While it’s too early to make any predictions, if Safonov can continue to grow in this role and translate his KHL game to the North American style of play, he could become a fan favorite in Chicago.
Ilya Safonov #Blackhawks— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) October 31, 2022
5-2 Ak Bars #KHL pic.twitter.com/D21ezBGAK5
Victor Stjernborg, Växjö Lakers HC (SHL)
Stats: 3 points (0 G, 3 A) in 18 games played
While not the points machine some of his peers have shown to be, Stjernborg is a very skilled skater and passer. The three assists on his stat sheet do not give proper justice to how pretty some of his passes have been.
This is a player who has some serious vision and good hands:
MANUEL ÅGREN i en läcker 3 mot 2-situation Assisterad av Brian Cooper & Victor Stjernborg #VLH #vaxjolakers #FHC #frölundahc pic.twitter.com/21ewZRo5VY— Patrik Carlsson (@CarlssonPk) November 1, 2022
Manuel Ågren— SwehockeyGIFs (@swehockeygifs) November 1, 2022
Brian Cooper Victor Stjernborg #SHL #VLH #Blackhawks
C More pic.twitter.com/ZUyKeAgbGw
Michael Krutil, HC Sparta Praha (Czechia) / HC Banik Sokolov (Czechia 2)
Stats: 0 points in 10 games played
While Krutil showed his big body presence and skills along the boards this past summer, an injury kept him out of the lineup for HC Sparta Praha and he was eventually demoted. Krutil turned 20 this summer and there’s still plenty of hockey left to be played this season, but it hasn’t been an ideal start to the season for the Blackhawks’ 2020 fourth-round pick.