By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
While the National Hockey League remains on pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic and awaiting the final word from Health Officials to proceed with the 2020 summer Stanley Cup Playoff 24-team Tournament, other hockey leagues worldwide are setting their 2020/21 regular-season schedules. The Boston Bruins have four prospects that are under contract and set to get back to work in their respected European Leagues. The Swedish Allsvenskan, the Finnish SM-Liiga, and Swedish Hockey Leagues 2020/21 regular-season campaigns prepare to get back on the ice this fall as their countries seem to have acceptable numbers for team play and possibly without fans in attendance.
Below are a few Boston prospects that could return to Europe after the upcoming and unscheduled training camps prior to the 20/21 regular-season start. With the uncertainty of hockey at the professional leagues in North America at this point and what the NHL Bruins already have in the system, the mentioned players underneath may benefit greatly with staying exactly where they are. Now I’m not saying these players mentioned are terrible prospects and don’t have the potential of cracking an American Hockey League or ECHL roster, but to me, it’s almost a guaranteed start of an overseas campaign without the day-to-day changes we’re going through here in North America. If you look at the pipeline and seemingly bottleneck it just makes sense to have these players mentioned stew a bit longer in their respective countries’ professional leagues another year.
Swedish Hockey League
Linus is set to return to playing as the SHL is set to kick off in mid-September Drafted in the second round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey with Boston’s 60th overall selection. More of a defensive-minded shutdown guy in the SHL with a few pro teams in his native Sweden, Arnesson, a 25-year-old left-shooting blueliner has had a solid career playing overseas but when called upon in higher world leagues the 6’1″ 198-pound defenseman seemingly struggled in the smaller North American rinks.
Linus did spend a significant amount of time with the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins appearing in 79 games and posting 1-9-10 numbers in that timeframe. I believe his inconsistencies at the AHL level had both sides seeing a benefit in his forward development by sending back overseas. Since leaving Providence after two full seasons and 69 games the Stockholm, Sweden native has played for two SHL clubs since appearing in 93 games for the Orebro HK club posting 5-10-15 numbers to having his SHL career year offensively with a new team with the Farjestads BK Karlstad club where he dressed for 52 games posting 6-7-13 numbers.
Arnesson is still Boston Bruins property although he remains unsigned. Not being an expert on this player but seeing a few of his games (via web Stream) year by year and his point production slowly rising he still has a ton of potential to come back to Providence. Then again we have to also consider that Linus is comfortable playing in his home country and might continue to accept qualifying offers to wade out his decision to fully turn pro as the B’s have his rights for two more seasons. His pro contract in Sweden, on the other hand, is valid for the upcoming 2020/21 season so he could re-sign to stay in Sweden or come back to Providence if space is available. If he did, in fact, come back to North America he’d be out of the NHL entry-level window being 25-year-old where a players one-year eligibility for an ELC runs out at 24-years of age.
March 2020 – Arnesson’s calling card is his strong defensive play. He has good lateral mobility which allows him to hold the zone offensively and defend well off the rush. At 25 years old, he has played 79 total AHL games in Providence with minimal offensive production. He has spent the majority of his hockey career in Sweden, including the last three years in the SHL. He doesn’t hold much fantasy value offensively, but can contribute with ice time, plus/minus and blocked shots if he were to return to North America. The Bruins hold Arnesson’s NHL rights until the 2022 off-season.
Swedish Hockey League
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Emil has had an interesting path to professional hockey that’s seen a few twists and turns. Predominately rising up the HV71 program from the Allsvenskan, SuperElit, and now SHL, the 24-year-old stay-at-home defenseman plays an impactful yet comfortable game throughout his international play.
Emil is far from a draft bust for a late round selection but has taken a lot longer to develop seemingly being passed over by higher ranked Boston Bruins depth blueliners. Regardless of his decline in the prospect depth charts, the 6′-0″ 1295-pound left-shooting defenseman continues to be an ace in the hole and may get another chance at North American hockey very soon. Although Johansson’s first North American tour which lasted two seasons from 2017-18 to the 2018-19 wasn’t such a great success appearing in 118 games posting 5-15-20 numbers, it was better for both sides to go back to Sweden to continue to work on his attributes.
As we’ve seen with prospects from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, some younger players need more seasoning in the lower leagues around the world. I believe when first-year Bruins European Scout and former NHL’er with Boston PJ Axelsson had the goods on Emil he saw something special that remains to be a Boston asset no matter where he plays worldwide. With upward movement of Boston defensive prospects upward to the NHL, Emil is a solid option to fill a roster spot in Providence if needed.
As a 24-year-old he remains unsigned but can be locked up on a one-year entry-level during this offseason. Anytime after his 24-years of age, the entry-level window closes but can still sign a standard two-way contract thereafter or a one-year AHL only contract which is highly unlikely. Emil Has one more full year under contract via the HV71 team and is free to return to the AHL if he chooses after. A two-way contract could inside Emil to return but if he’s offered an AHL only deal he might stay put in Europe.
SM-Liiga – Finnish League
Mantykivi was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and is currently under contract playing in his native Finland. The now 18-year-old Matias has been rising through the SaiPa developmental system landing his first full campaign in the Finnish Professional Liiga League where he appeared in 42 games posting 3-3-6 numbers. His best season to date playing in the SaiPa system was in the 2018-19 regular season where he notched 12-24-36 totals in 34 games in the lower U20 SM-sarja league. Later that year after his commitment was over for the year, Mantykivi got into six games in the Liiga league before getting full pro time this season.
The 5′-11″ 161-pound center has the tools and speed to be an effective pro in leagues over in North America but as a young man has plenty of time to work on this attributes and muscle mass. As mentioned above, these European prospect such as Arnesson and Johansson have got a taste of what it’s like to play in the AHL but didn’t exactly blow the minds of Bruins management and scouts to stay so it’s hard to see Mantyviki’s projection to smaller ice overseas.
Fifth-year Boston Bruins Finnish Scout Erkki Rajamaki had to see something special about Matias to convince Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and staff to take a late-round gamble on him. Mantykivi is a speedy forward with some North American upside but he’s yet to prove that in the smaller rinks. It’s not traditional, but maybe the smaller ice surface could spark better reaction times and creativity to make a player like Matias be that late-round gem who others had no idea his potential capabilities. All is a roll of the dice or a spin of the wheel when it comes to selecting younger talent and where they end up in the future and plans of an NHL organization. Mantykivi is under contract with his Liiga SaiPa team for the 2020/21 season so Erikki and others such as cross border Scout PJ Axelsson can collaborate further projecting where he fits in the NHL Bruins organization.
Former DobberProspects.com website writer Lassi Alanen now working for EliteProspects.com as a Finnish Scout had this to say about the Boston Bruins prospect below in his article about Mantykivi that can be read in full HERE.