NHL Prospects Roundup: Lindholm hat trick highlights final weekend of NHL preseason

By Ken McKenna
Elias Lindholm - Carolina Hurricanes

Photo: Carolina Hurricanes prospect Elias Lindholm (C) is congratulated by Victor Rask and Riley Nash on Lindholm’s hat trick goal in Friday’s preseason game (courtesy of Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire)

 

The 2014 NHL preseason is now in the books with the 30 NHL clubs now focusing on the start of the 2014-15 regular season that begins on Wednesday night. The final weekend of preseason action provided a few notable NHL prospect performances, but the real test for these young players begins in two days.

Lindholm hat trick highlights Hurricanes’ big win

Carolina Hurricanes‘ 2013 first round pick Elias Lindholm displayed some offensive chops in his team’s 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. The Hurricanes’ top prospect netted a hat trick and was named the game’s first star for his efforts. His first goal of the game early in the second period ended up being the game-winner as he beat Sabres’ goaltender Michal Neuvirth with a wrist shot from the slot.

Lindholm snapped home his second of the game, beating Neuvirth with a shot from the right dot to make the score 4-0 for the Hurricanes.

Kozun has strong finish, makes Maple Leafs’ roster

While Los Angeles, CA native Brandon Kozun did not get the opportunity to  play for his hometown NHL club, the team that acquired him back in January, the Toronto Maple Leafs, has provided a new home for the 24-year-old’s talents. Kozun has made the Leafs’ opening roster after turning in a solid preseason showing in which he scored two goals and three assists in 6 games.

Kozun finished the preseason with a flourish on Friday, scoring a goal and picking up two assists in the Leafs’ final preseason game, a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.  His goal was a highlight reel effort off a rush into the Red Wings’ zone, with Kozun driving to the net to beat Wings’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to make the score 2-1.

Nestrasil, Sheahan star in Red Wings preseason finale

Forward Andrej Nestrasil scored a goal in regulation and another in the shootout in helping the Detroit Red Wings finish off their preseason with a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins. Nestrasil’s goal in the second period came on the power play as he redirected a pass from Danny DeKeyser past Bruins’ goaltender, Tuukka Rask.

Nestrasil was named the game’s second star, and likely made a place for himself on the Wing’s roster to begin the 2014-15 season. The game’s third star, Riley Sheahan, opened the scoring in this game, beating Rask with a wrist shot off the rush.

Wings’ goaltending prospect Petr Mrazek stopped 20 of 23 shots in the win.

Devils’ defensive duo stars in win over Rangers

New Jersey Devils‘ defenseman Adam Larsson has struggled to live up to the expectations placed on him after being chosen fourth overall at the 2011 NHL Draft. But Larsson turned in a generally good showing in preseason action, finishing the exhibition slate with a two-assist performance in nearly 20 minutes of play in the Devils’ 3-0 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Larsson’s first assist came off of his shot from the point, which was tipped by Tuomo Ruutu past Rangers’ goaltender, Cam Talbot.

Larsson also assisted on a goal by Jaromir Jagr which made the score 2-0. Another young Devils’ defender, Damon Severson, earned an assist and the game’s third star, with Dainius Zubrus tipping in a Severson shot on the power play to make the score 3-0.

Finnish duo contributes in Blues’ loss to Wild

Forward Jori Lehtera, a 2008 third round selection of the St. Louis Blues, will be making his NHL debut after a strong preseason showing in which he posted six points in five preseason games. Three of his points came in the Blues’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild in the final preseason tuneup for both clubs. Lehtera scored two goals and assisted on another to go along with three shots and two hits in 18:41 of ice time. He was named the game’s third star for his performance.

Another Finnish Blues’ prospect who showed well in the preseason was defenseman Petteri Lindbohm. The 2012 sixth round pick picked up two assists and was a +4 in six preseason games, with his two assists coming in the loss to the Wild.

Wild defenseman Matt Dumba finished a good preseason with a strong performance, picking up a goal and an assist in the win over the Blues. Dumba finished the preseason slate with one goal and four assists in five games, and appears to have earned a spot on the Wild’s opening game roster.

Kuznetsov scores in Capitals’ 5-2 win

The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes Sunday night played the final  game of the 2014 NHL preseason, with the Capitals claiming a 5-2 decision. Capitals’ top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov opened the scoring on the night, taking a pass from surprising free agent Liam O’Brien and banking in a shot past Hurricanes’ goaltender Anton Khudobin for the 1-0 lead.

Another top Capitals’ prospect, Andre Burakovsky, picked up an assist in the win, giving him two goals and two assists in six preseason games and, more importantly, a likely berth on the Capitals roster heading into the 2014-15 season.

This wraps up the NHL preseason version of HF’s NHL Prospects Roundup. With the NHL and AHL seasons beginning this week, and with the college, junior, and European leagues either soon to begin or already started, the focus of this feature will widen to include notable performances from the the various leagues. Given the scope of that coverage, however, the feature will go from the Monday-thru-Friday posting schedule to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday slate.

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