European Prospects Update
Ahhhhh, my first European Hockey Update away from the third world dictatorship that HF has become. Lets begin:
All in all, the beat goes on in Europe for the Lightning's prospects. They have some excellent overage properties like Somervuori, But and Norrena but have yet to see the explosion from youngsters like Polushin and Kazionov they might've hoped for. The exception to the rule is 2004 entry draft 6th rounder Karri Ramo, who is emerging as one of the two best young goalies in all of Finland after having a remarkable performance at Traverse City.
- Marek Posmyk has 6-4-10 in 28 games with 64 PIMs and a -11 rating. Why include him in the statistical package? Thoroughness. The only plausible reason to care what Posmyk is doing in Austria. Thoroughness.
- Ivan Rachunek checks in from Znojmesti Orli with 2-3-5 in 24 games, 10 PIMs and a -4 rating. Znojmesti is currently 10th on the Czech table and currently out of the playoff chase.
- Karri Akkanen, who missed time after Traverse City with a pulled groin, has 3-6-9 in 21 games for Tapparra's Junior A team. Surprisingly, he has a tame (by his standards) 20 PIMs and a -1 rating.
- Karri Ramo is the story of the year amongst Lightning European prospects. At current he's become the Pelicans SM-liiga level starter with a 3.23 GAA and .919 save percentage at that level, despite playing on a team that is 13th in a 13 team league. In Junior A, he's second amongst all goalies with a .935 save percentage and has a 2.11 GAA. Here again, Pelicans Junior A is one of the worst teams in the league in 9th on the table. Go ahead and compare his stats to much touted 2005 draftee to be Tuukka Rask. It'll make you smile.
- Eero Somervuori is the 10th leading scorer in the SM-liiga. His 11-21-31 in 39 games make him the second leading scorer on Karpat, which is the second place team in the league. He also checks in with 12 PIMs and a +14 rating.
- Poor Sascha Goc. He coulda been a contenda. Now he's just a guy with a paltry 1-4-5 in 35 games for the sixth best team in the DEL. The Mannheim blueliner also has 67 PIMs and is a -2.
- Dimitry Bezrukov is currently looking for a Superleague job. However, before he was cut loose, he had 1-3-4 and 16 PIMs in 27 games for Molot Perm.
- Anton But remains one of the best scorers in the Superleague with a stylish 10-18-28 with 28 PIMs in 42 games.
- Now that Canada has stolen Russia's greatest natural treasure, Alexei Glukhov, can war be far behind? Before becoming a Salmon King, Glukhov had 0-0-0 with 4 PIMs for Khimik.
- Dimitry Kazionov is the tortoise of the Lightning European prospect rat race, if I may mix metaphors. Slow and steady wins the race. Kazionov has 2-7-9 in 37 games along with 24 PIMs for Togliatti.
- Vasily Koshechkin hasn't gotten into a game for Lada Togliatti since 12/7 when he played 10 minutes of mop up duty behind workhorse Jussi Markkannen. Seeing Karri Ramo's development in Finland makes me wish we could put Vasily in a more appropriate development environment rather than see him continue to hit his head on the glass ceiling of Russian hockey that many young players have a hard time breaking through.
- Alex Polushin, buddy, friend, allow me to play agent for you a second. Step away from the foolish demand for a lot of money and the resistance to playing AHL hockey. Right now in Russia, with the influx of NHLers, you've only gotten in 13 games. And while your 3-3-6 and 4 PIMs in that time isn't bad, all it shows right now is that you've got the most upside of any popcorn server in the CSKA press box. And unfortunately, it'll stay that way until you get over to North America so Dirk Graham can extract his pound of flesh and make you into an NHLer.
- Albert Vishnyakov has 1-2-3 in 26 games of lower line duty for Moscow Dynamo. He also has 8 PIMs.
[*}Johan Hagglund remins stuck as a third liner for a good Alsvenskan team in Hammarby. He finished the initial Alsvenskan phase with 6-6-12 and 30 PIMs in 30 games of Sodra division play. But he was a +11 in that time. Hammarby, which finished 3rd in their division, has now moved on to the Superalsvenskan where Hagglund is scoreless and -2 in 2 games.
- Fredrik Norrena, pratically by himself, has turned the Linkopings organization from the dead last bottomfeeder it was when a young Andreas Holmqvist left for, er, the ECHL, into a true contender and the second place team on the Elitserian table. He leads the league in save percentage at .936 and is second in GAA at 1.82. I'm beginning to think if the Lightning don't sign Fredrik at some point, some other team is sure to pick up the phone and ask Jay Feaster if they can roll the dice on him.
- Jimmie Olvestad is the Ron Artest of the Elitserian. OK, not really, but his 77 PIMs in 31 games are pretty thuggish for Swedish hockey. He also has notched 2-6-8 and is a -2 this season.
- With so many NHLers making a bee line to the decent pay and high quality of living Switzerland offers, Timo Helbling has gotten a long look at stars like Joe Thornton, Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash a lot sooner than he probably thought he would. His 92 PIMs are 4th in the NLA and he has chipped in 2-5-7 in 36 games for the Kloten Flyers.