Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Game Time" -- The System From Aaltonen to Zakharov, Part Three

(originally published November 4, 2006)

All aboard the Trans-Europe Express for tonight's installment of our annual look at the Blues’ system. We'll make stops in Linköping, Vitkovice and Severstal tonight before finishing up in Peoria. All personal data (height, weight, etc.) is taken from the Blues’ website, and all statistics are as of Thursday, November 2.

Jonas Junland, D, shoots L, 6’02, 198, born 11-15-87. The native of Linköping, Sweden was named Top Defenseman at the 2006 World Under-18 Tournament last season, and led the J20 Superelit (Swedish major junior) in defenseman scoring last year (17-23-40, 44 PIM in 32 games) despite missing the last two months of the season due to a shoulder injury. Junland reported to the Prospect Camp in July showing no ill effects from the injury, and after returning to Sweden for this season, quickly showed he's outgrown the junior league by posting 5-5-10 totals, with a plus-6 and 22 PIM, in only seven games with his hometown team. He's been playing recently for Linköping's senior squad in the SEL, and hasn't looked out of place with 0-2-2 totals, a plus-2, and 12 PIM in 13 games thus far. The 64th overall pick in 2006 could well be the dynamic offensive defenseman the Blues have long been looking to add to their system.

Tomas Kana, C, shoots R, 6’00, 202, born 11-29-87. Taken in the second round (31st overall) by the Blues in 2006, the native of Opava, Czech Republic remains a favorite of the "Game Time" prospect department despite the unexpected about-face he made this summer. Kana had reported to the Blues' Prospect Camp, and looked to be all set to report to Owen Sound of the OHL, the team that drafted him sixth overall in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. Instead, the gritty, two-way center is back in Vitkovice for another season (3-2-5 with 24 PIM in 20 games so far), advising the Blues through his agent that he had signed a contract with the Czech Extraliga club. The word is that the Blues don't consider his contract to be an insurmountable obstacle, and when Kana plays for the Czechs in the World Juniors in January, as he likely will, the Blues can speak with him personally and get a handle on his intentions for the near future.

Magnus Kahnberg, LW, shoots R, 6’02, 196, born 02-25-80. Acquired from Carolina at last year's trade deadline, in the Doug Weight loan, Kahnberg brings his nose for the net from the Swedish Elite League to Peoria for the 2006-07 campaign. In six full seasons with Frölunda of the Swedish Elite League, Kahnberg lit the lamp 102 times in 295 games, including a league-high 33 goals in 2003-04. He was also a plus-45 over the last three seasons in Sweden, but neither that stat nor the goal-scoring touch seem to have been packed in his suitcase when he came to Peoria. In ten games with the Rivermen, Kahnberg is 1-4-5 with 4 PIM and a minus-6. He has had a good attitude about starting his North American career in the AHL, and if he keeps working hard, his skill level merits an NHL shot at some point during this season.

D.J. King, LW, shoots L, 6’03, 230, born 01-27-84. After getting only about three minutes of ice time per game in his first six NHL appearances, the big winger from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan was reassigned to Peoria on October 23rd. Since then, King has appeared in two games for the Rivermen, racking up no points and nine minutes in the penalty box. The penalty box has been a familiar destination for King in his young pro career, with 338 minutes in two AHL seasons accumulated prior to this year. He has been effective as a role player in the AHL, with a respectable 11 goals and 25 points in his two pro seasons, but it's his size, toughness, and ability to use his fists that will get him a full-time job in the NHL. If he can continue to develop the ability to chip in the odd goal, that's what will keep him there.

Nikolai Lemtyugov, RW, shoots L, 6’00, 184, born 01-15-86. After coming up in the system of CSKA Moscow, and playing the last two years in the RSL for that team, the Blues' seventh-round pick (219th overall) in 2005 is playing for Severstal Cherepovets this season. The Miass, Russia native has 3-2-5 totals, with a plus-5 and 18 PIM in 18 games for Cherepovets thus far, and caught the attention of North American fans in the 2005 Canada/Russia Challenge with a goal, an assist, and 26 PIM in six games. He followed up that performance with a strong showing in the World Juniors last season, where he was 4-1-5 with a plus-4 mark in six games for Team Russia. A strong skater with a hard-nosed attitude, Lemtyugov is a player that the Blues will certainly make a strong effort to sign in the coming off-season.

Doug Lynch, D, shoots L, 6’03, 214, born 04-04-83. Acquired from Edmonton in the infamous Chris Pronger trade, Lynch has developed into a solid stay-at-home blueliner with strong leadership ability. As a rookie with the Oiler organization in 2003-04, Lynch put up 11-25-36 numbers with a plus-10 mark and 77 PIM in 74 AHL games. He has never come back to those kinds of numbers on offense, but the potential is still there, and at age 23, he has time on his side for a little while longer. Lynch appeared in 29 games for Peoria last season, and only eight regular-season games for Alaska of the ECHL, but he was a key component of Alaska's march through the Kelly Cup playoffs. A steadying influence on a young defense, Lynch was 0-4-4 with 10 PIM in 22 games as the Aces captured the ECHL championship. Currently, Lynch is 0-1-1 with a minus-1 and 17 PIM in nine games for Peoria.

Konstantin Barulin update: The "Game Time" prospect department has finally located a website that has updated Russian Superleague stats. According to Russian Hockey Digest (, Barulin has played three games (129:05) with Khimik Voskresensk, and has allowed four goals on 54 shots against for a sterling 1.86 GAA and 92.6% save percentage.

In our next installment, we'll be looking at some more Russians and AHLers, as well as possibly the Blues' top offensive prospect. Until then, check out archived "Tomorrow's Blues" columns and other prospect-related content at, and remember... "If we do not prepare for ourselves the role of the hammer, there will be nothing left but that of the anvil." Auf wiedersehen.

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