On loan: checking with players the Penguins sent on loan
It’s late October and that should mean professional hockey is getting ready to go. This is not the case in North America, with unknown plans to start the 2020-21 season. With this in mind, teams have loaned young players in Europe, especially for natives or where connections are already established. the Penguins are no different with seven players on loan during that unknown fall to allow some players to work and play hockey.
Here is a list of them and how they are doing so far. All loans are “short term” and must end when the Pittsburgh NHL camp opens, unless otherwise specified below.
Nicolas almari (Pelicans, SM-Liiga [Finland]): Almari has zero points in three games so far with the Pelicans. Penguins? pelicans? Pretty close, right? At 22 and defensive back, Almari scored just five points in total in 42 games in 2018-19, his last season in the Liiga (then with HPK).
Kasper Björkqvist (KooKoo, SM-Liiga): In seven games, Bjorkqvist has eight points (4G + 4A), making him KooKoo’s top scorer at the moment. It’s a very welcome development for Bjorkqvist, whose 22-year-old season last year was all but wiped out last year with just six AHL games before tearing the ACL and being knocked out from the rest of the league. last season. Bjorkqvist will remain in Finland for the entire 2020-21 season according to the terms of his loan.
Jan Drozg (HK Olimpija Ljubjana, Alpine Hockey League [Slovenia]): Our Young player ranked 22nd in the organization of Pens illuminates the lower Slovenian league with seven points (2G + 5A) in just three games so far. It’s great and what you want to see, a talented player having the chance to play a few games and score points, even though everyone knows the competition isn’t the best.
Emil Larmi (HPK, SM-liiga): Larmi is back with HPK, the team he played for from 2016-17 to 2018-19 and won a title with in ’19 on a short-term loan. He’s yet to be in a game, but the other goalies haven’t done well. HPK has scored just two wins in the first nine games of the season, ranking only 13th in the standings in a 15-team league So far so they seem to be able to use what has been a very good goalkeeper at SM-liiga level previously at Larmi.
Jesper lindgren, (Modo, HockeyAllsvensken [Sweden]): Lindgren, 23, was picked up by Toronto’s Pittsburgh in the exchange that sent Kasperi Kapanen with pens. Lindgren is pretty much a non-factor, he only played 31 games with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL last season and is a restricted free agent in the NHL next year. Will the Pens bring him back? We’ll see, but Lindgren is in Sweden all season this year with his loan. He’s playing well and five points (0G + 5A) in seven games, he’s actually his team’s leading scorer. But he also plays in the Allsvensken league, which is the AHL of the Swedish leagues, and not in the SHL level (which corresponds to the NHL level). All in all, it doesn’t look like much of a future on this side of the Atlantic given the contract status and current positioning away from radars and not ready for high level competition.
Cam Lee (HC Slovan Bratislava, Slovak Extraliga): This is one of the most interesting cases, as Lee is so far the only non-European Penguin to have been assigned to a European team. The Nova Scotian has yet to play a game in Slovakia, but as you can see from the title photo his team has a “Robo Penguin” logo and he has been in training and will likely make his very professional debut. soon in a strange land, quite funny.
Radim Zohorona (BK Mlada Boleslav, ELH [Czech Republic]): Our 25th ranked young player in the Pens organization had a great breakthrough year in the Czech league in 2018-19 and picked up exactly where it left off. Zohorna has five points (2G + 3A) in four games to lead his team, the same one he played last year.
A common connection is that none of these players were supposed to make an impact on the NHL for Pittsburgh in 2020-21, but there is still a lot of value to follow how players like Bjorkqvist and Lee fare abroad. and in the hope that they might one day grow into players who might be in the NHL one day.