Tag: Europe

Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes - Game Four

5 European prospects ready for the NHL


Each offseason there are veterans who fade away, only to be replaced by up-and-coming prospects the following October. Call it the NHL’s version of the Circle of Life—only with ice and without Elton John. Neate Sager broke down the five most likely prospects from the CHL that are most likely ready to make the jump to the NHL. The prospects he lists include Brett Connolly (Lightning), Nino Niederreiter (Islanders), Erik Gudbranson (Panthers), Ryan Johansen (Blue Jackets), and Gabriel Landeskog (Avalanche). In all, there are four players from the 2010 Draft and another from the recent 2011 Draft that was held in Minneapolis.

But there are more prospects chomping at the bit to make the NHL than just those who play in the Ontario, Western, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagues. Here we’ll list the five players who are most ready to make the jump to full-time NHL hockey next season.

5. Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings (Slovakia)
The 19-year-old Slovakian would already be an NHL regular if it weren’t for the organization that has been developing him over the last few years. It’s hard to believe the talented left winger has already spent two seasons in the AHL with the Red Wings affiliate in Grand Rapids. Last year, he impressed management enough to for a 9-game call-up to fill-in while the Wings dealt with injury problems. The talented winger has put in a lot of work to become more responsible on the defensive side of the puck—it should pay off with a full season with the NHL club this season.

4. David Rundblad, Ottawa Senators (Sweden)
Rundblad is talented enough to make the jump to the NHL and the Ottawa Senators have a spot for him. Their blueline isn’t exactly the deepest in the league and with low expectations for the season, the team can afford to deal with the unavoidable growing pains of a rookie defenseman. At this point in his development, he’ll be able to score points from the backend, but he’s going to give up his fair share of chances against as well. The bottom line is that he’s a productive player who’s ready to show what he can do in the best league in the world. He had 50 points in 55 games in the Swedish Elite League last season against grown men. Not bad for a 20-year-old. Not bad at all.

3. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix Coyotes (Sweden)
Last season was Ekman-Larsson’s first year in North America—and honestly the Coyotes seemed like they didn’t know what to do with him. The former 6th overall pick played in 48 games in the NHL and could have hung in there for the rest of the season if the Coyotes were desperate. But if Phoenix wanted to develop him properly, he should have spent the majority of the season with San Antonio. Instead, he played half the season with Phoenix, spent 15 games with San Antonio in the AHL, and spent the rest of the time in Jobing.com Arena’s press box. He had flashes of brilliance and he had flashes of “rookie defensemanitis.” With another year under his belt, time to put on added muscle, and a summer to learn from his 2010-11 season, he should be ready to stick with the big club for the entire 82 game season. He has all the makings of a very good defenseman—but just like almost every other blueliner, it’ll just take some time.

2. Adam Larsson, New Jersey Devils (Sweden)
Yet another Swede, yet another defenseman. Larsson’s the newest of the blueliner wave from the Scandinavian country and is this year’s title holder of “the next Lidstrom.” Each year a great defensive prospect gets the unfair label and each year it’s passed onto someone else. Larsson has all the makings of a player who will be able to step into the New Jersey Devils lineup this season—but it’s probably a bit premature to start calling him the next Lidstrom when Nicklas has more Norris Trophies than Larsson has career games played.

Back home in Sweden, Larsson has played on the same Skelleftea team as Rundblad for the last two years. Obviously, he hasn’t had the same breakout offensive season that Rundblad had last year, but scouts say that his defensive play is already better than his highly-touted teammate.  The Devils look like they’ll have a spot for him on their blueline and he’s already told people that he wants to play in the NHL.

1. Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild (Finland)
He might not be the best rookie next season, but he’ll certainly be the most exciting. He was almost a point-per-game player with HIFK Helsinki in highly competitive SM-liiga. What he lacks in stature (he’s 5’10”), he makes up for with unbelievable talent and on-ice awareness. His biggest obstacle will be trying to play center against the much bigger players of North America. But even if the Wild have to move him to wing, he’s the type of player who will be able to help the Wild immediately on the scoreboard. Considering they were 26th in the league in scoring, they could use all the help they can get.

Honorary Mention: Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (Russia)
Tarasenko didn’t officially make the list because he’s told Blues management that he’s staying in Russia for the 2011-12 season. Anyone who saw Tarasenko play in the World Junior Championships for Team Russia should be fully aware of just how good this winger can be. Even though he’s only 19-years-old, he already has three full seasons under his belt in the KHL. In 122 career games, he’s managed 29 goals and 24 assists for Novosibirsk Siber. Perhaps more impressively, he’s managed to be a plus player in each of his three seasons with his club. The 16th overall pick in the 2010 Draft is already a two-way player showed incredible toughness and leadership in the WJC when he returned from a rib injury in the 2nd period of the Gold Medal game to score the game-tying goal and set up the game-winning goal for Team Russia. He’s ready—and the Blues could use the additional fire power. If he changes his mind, he immediately jumps to #1 on this list.

NHL releases preseason schedule


Only a month and a half until preseason hockey. It’s not quite as good as regular season hockey, but it sounds better than “two months until hockey.” In the middle of summer, hockey fans will take what they can get. It may not be as appealing as playoff hockey—but it’s not baseball either.

This year’s preseason schedule features a few NHL visits to American non-NHL cities like Baltimore, Orlando, Albany, Charlotte, Kansas City, Bridgeport, and Las Vegas. (That is the first and last time that Bridgeport, CT and Las Vegas, NV will ever be mentioned in the same sentence). Canada will be spreading the love as well when Quebec City, St. John’s, Halifax, London (Ontario, not England), and Saskatoon get to check out NHL action in their fair cities. Some of the teams that are traveling across the pond for the NHL Premiere will engage in preseason contests with the locals (as has become tradition): the Rangers, Sabres, Ducks, and Kings are all scheduled to take on European competition before they drop the puck on the regular season.

Here’s the full preseason schedule from the NHL’s official release:

2011-12 NHL PRE-SEASON SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)


Nashville at Florida (split-squad doubleheader), 3 p.m.
Carolina at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Ottawa at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Florida (split-squad doubleheader), 7:30 p.m.


Philadelphia at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Winnipeg at Columbus (split squads), 7 p.m.
Nashville vs. Washington, at Baltimore, Md. (1st Mariner Arena), 7 p.m.
Dallas at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Chicago vs. Edmonton (split squad), at Saskatoon, Sask. (Credit Union Centre), 8 p.m.
Columbus at Winnipeg (split squads), 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Edmonton (split squad), 9 p.m.
Vancouver at Calgary (split squads), 9 p.m.
Calgary at Vancouver (split squads), 10 p.m.
Phoenix at Anaheim, 10 p.m.


Toronto at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Washington at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
St. Louis vs. Tampa Bay, at Orlando, Fla. (Amway Center), 7 p.m.
New Jersey vs. NY Rangers, at Albany, N.Y. (Times Union Center), 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Boston at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
San Jose at Anaheim, 10 p.m.
Los Angeles at Phoenix (split squads), 10 p.m.
Phoenix at Los Angeles (split squads), 10:30 p.m.


Chicago at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Detroit vs. Philadelphia, at London, Ont. (John Labatt Centre), 7 p.m.
Minnesota at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Colorado at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Vancouver at Edmonton, 9 p.m.


NY Islanders at Boston, 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Carolina, 7 p.m.
NY Rangers at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Florida at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Montreal at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Washington at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Columbus at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Anaheim at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.


Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 3 p.m.
Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Ottawa at Montreal, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Winnipeg at Nashville, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Calgary at Edmonton, 8 p.m.
Anaheim at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
Phoenix at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.


Chicago at Detroit, 5 p.m.
Buffalo at Columbus, 5 p.m.
Carolina vs. Winnipeg, at Charlotte, N.C. (Time Warner Cable Arena), 5 p.m.
Boston vs. Montreal, at Halifax, N.S. (Metro Centre), 6 p.m.
Dallas at Colorado, 8 p.m.
Edmonton at Calgary, 8 p.m.
San Jose at Vancouver, 9 p.m.
Anaheim at Los Angeles, 9:30 p.m.


Ottawa vs. Winnipeg, at St. John’s, Nfld. (Mile One Centre), 4 p.m.
Columbus at Washington, 7 p.m.
NY Rangers at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Boston at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.


Dallas at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Toronto at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
St. Louis at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles vs. Pittsburgh, at Kansas City, Mo. (Sprint Center), 8 p.m.
Phoenix at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
NY Islanders at Calgary, 9 p.m.


Washington at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Carolina at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.
Detroit at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Vancouver at Anaheim, 10 p.m.


NY Rangers vs. Sparta Prague, at Prague, Czech Republic (TESLA Arena), 1 p.m.
Ottawa at Boston, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Colorado at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Florida at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Phoenix at Calgary, 9 p.m.
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.


NY Rangers vs. Frolunda, at Gothenburg, Sweden (Scandinavium), 1 p.m.
Buffalo at Washington, 7 p.m.
NY Islanders at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Columbus at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Toronto at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Edmonton at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Nashville at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles at Anaheim, 10 p.m.


Dallas at St. Louis, 2:30 p.m.
Detroit at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Montreal vs. Tampa Bay, at Quebec City, Que. (Colisée Pepsi), 7 p.m.
Boston vs. NY Islanders, at Bridgeport, Conn. (Webster Bank Arena), 7 p.m.
Carolina at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Colorado vs. Los Angeles, at Las Vegas, Nev. (MGM Grand), 9 p.m.
San Jose at Phoenix, 10 p.m.
Edmonton at Vancouver, 10 p.m.


NY Rangers vs. HC Slovan, at Bratislava, Slovakia (SLOVNAFT Arena), 11 a.m.
Pittsburgh at Detroit, 5 p.m.
Chicago at Washington, 5 p.m.


NY Rangers vs. EV Zug, at Zug, Switzerland (Bossard Arena), 2 p.m.


Anaheim vs. Jokerit, at Helsinki, Finland (Hartwall Arena), 12 p.m.
Los Angeles vs. Hamburg, at Hamburg, Germany (02 World Hamburg Arena), 1 p.m.
Buffalo vs. Adler Mannheim, at Mannheim, Germany (SAP Arena), 1:30 p.m.