(Photo credit: NHL)

By: Mark Whitfield | Follow me on Twitter @olop86

While North American hockey begins to heat up with the start of the NHL pre-season, the regular season(s) are in full swing in Europe (and Russia).

Matias Mäntykivi has been back in action for Ilves as they started their Liiga and CHL campaigns. He has had a decent start in the Finnish domestic league, picking up three points (one goal and two assists) in Ilves’ first seven games. As you would expect, he has had a more challenging time in the CHL, playing against the best European teams.

(Photo credit: Ilves)

That said, he has been a consistent presence in Ilves’ CHL line-up, starting their first three games as the first line center before being dropped down to their fourth line for the fourth. He managed to get a decent amount of ice time in each game but hasn’t been able to get any points (apart from a shoot-out goal in Ilves’ shoot-out loss to Red Bull Salzburg). The stats don’t tell the whole story, as he has been an active presence on the ice, creating opportunities that his teammates haven’t been able to capitalize on. He has performed well against teams with several North American imports, which bodes well for transitioning to the North American game.

With a bit of a break in the CHL schedule, Mäntykivi can find some form in the Liiga, which he will hopefully carry over into the CHL. After a strong start domestically, Bruins fans can expect to see some decent production from him this year.

(Photo credit: Codie McLachlan/AFP)

Roman Bychkov has had a less promising start, with no points in his five starts (out of a possible 11) for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. He is averaging more TOI than last season (11:33pg), which is encouraging, but he needs to get consistent starts to maximize his development. It would also be nice to see some points from him.

(Photo credit: Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Dans Ločmelis has put in a strong start to the season. He has started all four of Luleå’s games so far and put up six points (four goals and two assists). The league has had a 12 days break, but Ločmelis should be back in action this weekend.

(Photo credit: NHL)

Finally, an honorable mention for D-man Kai Wissmann, who signed with the Bruins in June. Wissmann joined the B’s from Eisbären Berlin and was first seen sporting the spoked B in the Prospect’s Challenge. Initial impressions are that he skates well for his size (six foot four inches) and showed some good stick handling skills during the challenge. A more in-depth look at Wissmann is coming to Black and Gold soon, but in the meantime, keep an eye on him during the pre-season.