European Holiday Pot Luck

Because of their more marginal status in the Tampa Bay Lightning's future plans, Bolt Prospects has not blogged real time daily updates on prospects playing in the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Norway or at the Upper League level or below in Russia. We do, however, update these players' progress every month or two in an informal statistical update. With all but Russia still on hiatus until after Christmas, now is as good a time as any for such an update. [b]Czech Republic[/b] [i]LW Ivan Rachunek, Zlin (Extraliga), 34 GP, 9-9-18, 42 PIM, +10[/i] Rachunek has moved into a much more prominent role for Zlin since the first part of the season. The club currently sits in third on the Extraliga table in no small measure because of Rachunek's contributions. Karel's younger brother is currently second on the team in both goals and overall scoring. [i]D Marek Posmyk, Ceske Budejovice (Extraliga), 25 GP, 5-3-8, 32 PIM, +4[/i] Posmyk has played well since coming back from some injury struggles earlier in the season. Budejovice is currently 9th on the Extraliga table. [i]D Jan Zapletal, KLH Valgar (1.liga), 7 GP, 0-0-0, 10 PIM, Even Vsetin J-20 (Junior), 9 GP, 0-3-3, 2 PIM, Even Vsetin (Extraliga), 13 GP, 0-0-0, 8 PIM, -2[/i] Zapletal has bounced around the Vsetin system this year. He started the season at the Extraliga level where he registered no points in 13 games. His failure to make the Extraliga club is somewhat troubling considering Vsetin is by far the worst team in the league and likely to be relegated barring a miracle. He was then sent down to Vsetin's junior club where he played reasonably well before moving to the Czech equivalent of Russia's Upper League to play for KLH Valgar. Valgar also sits in dead last in their league and are likely to be relegated to the 2.liga at season's end. [b]Germany[/b] [i]D Sascha Goc, Hannover (DEL), 32 GP, 8-7-15, 106 PIM, +3[/i] The former Mannheim captain has had a good rebound season after struggling with injuries for part of last season. Mannheim is currently 8th on the DEL table. Don't let Goc's gaudy PIM totals fool you though, 40 of his penalty minutes have come via 10 minute misconducts and he has not earned a fighting major all year. The failure of the Timo Helbling experiment in Tampa probably tempers what little enthusiasm for Central European overage prospects there might have been. [b]Norway[/b] [i]D Henrik Bergfors, IK Comet, 17 GP, 0-0-0, 51 PIM, -3[/i] Bergfors is currently second on his team in penalty minutes, but he's completely ineffective offensively in any league. IK Comet is currently 5th in the Norweigian league standings. [b]Russia[/b] [i]LW Dimitry Bezrukov, Novgorod (Upper League), 25 GP, 4-4-8, 32 PIM, +3[/i] If someone can explain to me how this guy went from being Spartak's leading scorer three years ago in the Superleague to being a marginal Upper Leaguer, I'd love to hear the story. [i]RW Ilya Solarev, Lipetsk (Upper League), 27 GP, 2-4-6, 10 PIM, -1[/i] Solarev has managed to carve a decent Upper League career from precious little in the way of raw materials. That's a fair sight more than some of the Lightning's other late round Russian picks can say, so Bolt Prospects salutes you Ilya Solarev. [b]Switzerland[/b] [i]C Eric Perrin, Bern (NLA), 29 GP, 10-14-24, 14 PIM[/i] Perrin is the third leading scorer for 2nd place Bern and played for Team Canada in the Loto Cup. [i]RW Shane Willis, Davos (NLA), 27 GP, 5-13-18, 39 PIM[/i] Nipping Bern's heels in 3rd is Davos, which will host the Spengler Cup and Team Canada, featuring Morgan Cey, December 26th. [i]RW Eero Somervuri, Ambri-Piotta (NLA), 21 GP, 5-11-16, 2 PIM[/i] Piotta is currently laboring at 7th on the NLA table. [b]The Milk Carton[/b] C Karri Akkanen played two games for HCM in the Finnish Suomi Sarja before falling off the face of the earth. If rumors about his past conditioning regimen are true, perhaps he can be spotted opposite Kobayashi at the next extreme eating contest. RW Pavel Sedov was listed on Khimik Voskresenk's Upper League team roster to start the year but has yet to play a game at that level. Raimonds Danilics is still in the Riga 2000 organization in Latvia, but frankly no one cares. He went to the USHL and NAHL last year to try and attract and played so poorly he wasn't even offered a copy of the home game. And Vitali Smolianinov? Last we saw Vitali he was playing for Kazakhmys Karaganda in the Upper League last season. This year? Perhaps he's assumed the role of Minister of Being a Wasted Draft Pick for the Kazhakstani government. Or perhaps he's selling snow plows. If you've seen Vitali Smolianinov or any of the above players this season, feel free to leave a message in this thread so we can take that player off the milk carton.

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Vitali Smolyaninov - found (sorta)

Maybe one of the best stories of Lightning folklore

Up there with the logo on a napkin, the Michael Jordan of hockey quote, Japanese owners and Saki, and Alex Kharitonov's "balls as big as a house" ...

Rick Dudley had a secret.

He was so excited he traded away future picks so he could grab the Siberian trio Smolianinov, Solarev, and Bezrukov in the final round of the 2001 draft. He found these guys at some remote hockey tournament in Siberia where tournament organizers were amazed that an NHL exec would come to their little neck of the tundra.

Do you think, in retrospect, Rick, that maybe no NHL scouts were there for a reason?

At least Bezrukov made the RSL at one point. Granted, he was an overage draftee to begin with. And the other two... wow.

Bezrukov was an established

Bezrukov was an established winger in the Superleague and was actually a heck of a player when they took him. He led Spartak one year in scoring. I don't know what happened to him but he just fell off one year into the Upper League never to be heard from much again.

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