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Blackfish: Arturs Silovs’ game-losing stinker, Lekkerimäki named SHL Player of the Month, and more

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Photo credit:Nick Barden
Dave Hall
4 months ago
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Welcome back to another Blackfish Prospect report.
Here are the updated statistics of the Vancouver Canucks’ prospects:

AHL

After an impressive four-game winning streak in our last report, the Abbotsford Canucks stumbled in their recent matches, dropping three out of four contests last week.
Goaltender Arturs Silovs has struggled to find consistency lately. He started two of those games and dropped both, despite making some strong saves along the way.
Despite a promising stretch earlier in the season, Silovs’ game has faltered, and he’s picked up just four wins across his first 14 starts of 2024.
To add insult to injury, Silovs experienced every goaltender’s worst nightmare, allowing a goal from centre ice in the waning minutes of the game, which ultimately resulted in a 2-1 loss.
The game wasn’t all bad, as he put up a commendable effort, stopping 33 of 35 shots leading up to that point. Regardless, it only adds to the murky performances of late.
Silovs’ struggles contrast starkly with his performance during the previous year, where he enjoyed strong performances not only in the AHL and NHL, but also in leading Team Latvia to its first-ever World Championship medal.
It’s not as if the team in front of him has done him many favours, but to say that he’s probably unhappy with a .904 save percentage with just weeks remaining in the regular season is probably an understatement.
On the other hand, Nikita Tolopilo has been red-hot as of late, earning starts in five of the team’s previous eight games and securing victories in four of them.
Despite limited appearances with just 22 starts under his belt, the Belarusian goaltender is making a strong case for himself among the league’s top rookie netminders.
With 14 wins, Tolopilo currently sits fifth among rookies, trailing Clay Thompson, the leader, by four with Thompson boasting 18 wins in 27 games.
Additionally, Tolopilo finds himself comfortably within the top 10 among rookie goaltenders in all three major goaltending categories, including save percentage (0.910) and goals against average (2.76).
At the end of the day, the future still belongs to Silovs, and it’s more than likely that he will turn the ship around. However, it looks like Tolopilo may have won over the crease for the time being as the team preps for its final stretch of a season in which they are battling to stay relevant in the Pacific Division.
Speaking of keys to success, Aatu Räty has been a key contributor lately, adding another goal and two assists over the week. He’s now built up 10 points over his last eight games and has 37 this year.
Currently, Räty ranks second in team scoring, trailing only Linus Karlsson and Arshdeep Bains, who share the top spot with 40 points each. Furthermore, his 37 points place him sixth among U22 skaters in the league.
Räty’s assists were both secondary, which means 17 out of his 24 assists now fall into that category. However, he continues to excel in even-strength situations, contributing 20 of his 37 points in such scenarios. This places him among the top producers on the team in 5v5 play, tied for second with Max Sasson behind Arshdeep Bains.
Tristen Nielsen contributed three secondary assists himself during the week, bringing his season totals to nine goals and 23 points.
After a brief stint in the Vancouver press box, Jett Woo returned to his role on the team’s top defensive pairing and recorded two assists in four games.
His season total now stands at 20 points, just one shy of his previous career high, set last season.
Arshdeep Bains also returned to the Abbotsford lineup following his four-game stint in the NHL and registered one assist in two games.
Finally, we had Cole McWard contribute his fourth of the season. He’s now up to 13 points over 48 games, the 13th-highest total among rookie defenders.

OHL

Josh Bloom rebounded from a disappointing week, notching four assists across three games.
His Saginaw Spirit hold the second spot among the entire OHL with a dominant 44-15-0-1 record. As the hosts this year, the team is guaranteed a spot in this year’s Memorial Cup, but they still carry a strong chance of making waves for an OHL Championship.
With eight goals and 23 assists through 26 games, Bloom is expected to be key as his team aims for a deep postseason run.
Kirill Kudryavtsev has been on an upward trajectory lately, tallying six points in his last five games, including three assists this week over two games.
As the regular season enters its final stretch with eight games remaining, Kudryavtsev and his team, the Soo Greyhounds, sit third in both their conference and overall standings. They are poised to challenge Josh Bloom’s Saginaw Spirit, a conference enemy, for an OHL Championship and a Memorial Cup berth.

Sweden

Jonathan Lekkerimäki continues to razzle-dazzle, adding another three goals to his ledger over the week, including what could be the goal of the year with a brilliantly executed lacrosse-style goal.
Earlier in the week, he showcased his lethal release with two goals in a single game.
The first was a classic Lekkerimäki release, finding the top short-side corner with a labelled wrist shot.
In a game that went to a shootout, Lekkerimäki stepped up when needed despite being initially denied by a remarkable glove save and the far side post.
Players can shoot multiple times following the initial three shooters.
With a slick drag move, he beat the netminder cleanly to secure the win and pick up yet another game-winning goal.
In the SHL, game-winning shootout goals are considered goals.
Despite finally having his point streak snapped on Saturday, Lekkerimäki’s recent performance has been spectacular. He picked up nine goals and 10 points across nine games in February, and earned the month’s SHL ‘Player of the Month’ award as a result.
At 19 years old, Jonathan Lekkerimäki leads his team in both goals (19) and points (29) and sits second in even-strength points (20).
Of course, his performance extends beyond his team, as he now stands fourth in the league in goals scored and second in game-winning goals (7).
Moreover, Lekkerimäki boasts the highest point total among all players under 24 years old.
To cap things off, with 19 goals and five games remaining, he’s starting to creep toward the top among U20 goalscorers in SHL history. This list includes names like Elias Pettersson (24), Peter Forsberg (23), Markus Naslund (22), and Daniel Sedin (21).
Elias Pettersson scored a big goal this week, tallying a late third-period game-winning marker, his third goal of the season.
Despite the win, his team, Västerås, will miss the postseason with just two games remaining in their schedule.
With their final game on March 8th, the 19-year-old defenceman will become eligible to join Abbotsford whenever the Canucks and Pettersson deem appropriate.
Amid rumours of the club’s interest in Jake Guentzel and their reluctance to part with Jonathan Lekkerimaki or Tom Willander, could EP26 potentially be included in a deal on or before the trade deadline?
Pettersson has accumulated 14 points this year, tying for third in points per game (0.44) among Allsvenskan U25 defenders. He has averaged 17:46 of ice time per game this season.

NCAA

Jackson Dorrington had a productive weekend, registering a goal and an assist in two games, bringing his season totals to six goals and six assists for a total of 12 points. Dorrington boasts a solid plus-15 rating, ranking second-best among his Northeastern squad and 13th-highest among collegiate defenders.
Jackson Kunz scored his sixth goal of the season in typical fashion, capitalizing on a rebound opportunity for his 13th point of his junior campaign.
The following night, his team, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, secured their 24th win of the season, clinching their 21st conference title in their history and their sixth title in 11 years.
The Fighting Hawks are currently ranked third in the NCAA power rankings and are strong contenders for a deep run in the Frozen Four.
They will enter the NCHC tournament as the No. 1 seed and will host Miami in a best-of-three series in two weeks.
Aku Koskenvuo made a strong appearance this week, posting 29 saves for a 2-1 overtime victory. He’s now working with a .907 save percentage and a 4-5-4 record on the year.

WHL

After a disappointing week in our last report, Sawyer Mynio bounced back with a goal and three assists.
Once again, his goal came courtesy of his lethal shot. He received a pass from behind the net before snapping home his 13th of the season.
With 45 points, he ranks 11th among WHL defenders, while his 23 goals place him sixth in the same category.
The Seattle Thunderbirds have eight games remaining in their schedule, and despite their playoff hopes being over, Mynio is on pace to finish with 52 points on the year.
Ty Young continued the trend of seeing one start per week, this time taking part in a 5-4 overtime win in which he stopped just 18 out of 22 shots.
That’s a wrap on this week’s report, and we will see you next week!
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