Hockey is back! I know hockey fans in North America are always saying “Is it October yet?” but in Europe, the hockey season is ongoing already. The Champions Hockey League started on August 30th (my recap of the first week can be found from here), and the first major national league to start their season was the Russian KHL which started on September first.
The Finnish Liiga will start their season on Friday whereas the Swedish SHL starts on Saturday. Additionally, the top junior leagues in Russia (MHL) and Finland (Jr. A SM-Liiga) have started already whereas the Swedish junior league (SuperElit) starts today. Here’s a list of players to watch from the three major pro leagues in Europe – most of the fantasy-relevant prospects play in these leagues.
Website (in English): en.khl.ru
- SKA St. Petersburg: Nikita Gusev (VGK), Igor Shestyorkin (NYR), Mikhail Maltsev (NJD), Andrei Altybarmakyan (CHI), Yegor Rykov (NYR)
- CSKA Moscow: Kirill Kaprizov (MIN), Ilya Sorokin (NYI), Maxim Shalunov (CHI), Andrei Svetlakov (MIN), Alexander Romanov (MTL)
- Traktor Chelyabinsk: Vitali Kravtsov (NYR)
- Lokomotiv Yaroslavl: Grigori Denisenko (FLA), Yegor Korshkov (TOR), Artur Kayumov (CHI), Nikolai Kovalenko (COL)
- Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg: Nikita Tryamkin (VAN), Anatoli Golyshev (NYI)
- Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk: Bulat Shafigullin (LAK)
- Avangard Omsk: Artyom Manukyan (VAN)
- Kunlun Red Stars: Ivan Nalimov (CHI)
- HC Slovan Bratislava: Patrik Virta (NYR)
Website (in Swedish): shl.se
- Växjö Lakers HC: Dominik Bokk (STL), Jonas Røndbjerg (VGK), Pontus Holmberg (TOR)
- Luleå HF: Isac Lundeström (ANA), Nils Lundkvist (NYR)
- Skellefteå AIK: Jonatan Berggren (DET), Albin Eriksson (DAL), Filip Berglund (EDM), Linus Lindström (CGY)
- Rögle BK: Lucas Elvenes (VGK), Nils Höglander (2019), Rasmus Sandin (TOR)
- Timrå IK: Filip Hållander (PIT), Jacob Olofsson (MTL)
- HV71: David Gustafsson (WPG), Felix Sandström (PHI), Martin Fehérváry (WSH)
- Linköping HC: Adam Ginning (PHI), Olle Lycksell (PHI), Fredrik Karlström (DAL)
- Frölunda HC: Gustav Lindström (DET), Tim Söderlund (CHI), Filip Westerlund (ARI)
- Djurgårdens IF: Jonathan Davidsson (CBJ), Marcus Davidsson (BUF), Emil Bemström (CBJ), Axel Andersson (BOS)
- Brynäs IF: Jesper Boqvist (NJD)
- Färjestad BK: Fabian Zetterlund (NJD)
Website (in English): liiga.fi/en/
- Kärpät: Rasmus Kupari (LAK), Aleksi Heponiemi (FLA), Veini Vehviläinen (CBJ)
- Ässät: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (MTL), Lenni Killinen (CAR), Otto Kivenmäki (DET)
- TPS: Kaapo Kakko (2019), Markus Nurmi (OTT), Lauri Pajuniemi (NYR)
- JYP: Anttoni Honka (2019), Jerry Turkulainen (undrafted)
- KalPa: Alexandre Texier (CBJ), Joni Ikonen (MTL), Eetu Luostarinen (CAR), Kim Nousiainen (2019)
- Pelicans: Jesse Ylönen (MTL), Jakub Skarek (NYI), Santtu Kinnunen (FLA)
- HIFK: Niklas Nordgren (CHI), Anton Lundell (2020)
- Jukurit: Mikko Kokkonen (2019), Henri Nikkanen (2019)
- Tappara: Toni Utunen (VAN)
- HPK: Eetu Tuulola (CGY), Markus Niemeläinen (EDM)
- SaiPa: Robin Salo (NYI)
- Ilves: Oskari Laaksonen (BUF)
- Lukko: Linus Nyman (undrafted)
Some of the younger players won’t spend the entire season at the top level because they can be moved up and down freely, so they’re often called up when injuries occur. But sometimes those youngsters play so well they get to stay up for good. It’s also possible some of the more developed players from the SHL and the Liiga play well enough in NHL training camps that they get to start the season there, or they’re possibly sent to the AHL instead of returning to Europe. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jonathan Davidsson and Isac Lundeström are names that come to mind, although Davidsson apparently has an European assignment clause which means the Blue Jackets can’t send him to the AHL without his approval.
There are also a few interesting players in Allsvenskan, the second-highest level in Sweden. Filip Johansson (MIN) and Calle Själin (NYR) play for Leksands IF. Jacob Ragnarsson (NYR) and Simon Johansson (MIN) play for Almtuna IS. Oskar Bäck (DAL) plays for BIK Karlskoga. And then there’s also Philip Broberg (2019) who plays for AIK. He made a name for himself at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and got high praise from Craig Button especially.
I had the pleasure of covering both the SHL and the Liiga last season but with my added responsibilities this season, I have to let go at least one of those monthly editorials. If you’re interested in either of them, you can find instructions on how to apply from here: Join our Staff.
“What added responsibilities?” one might ask. Well, I started writing a weekly column at DobberHockey. It’s called “The Journey”, it’s about prospects, and it comes out every Saturday. The first one came out last week: The Journey: Post-Hype Sleeper Prospects.
Champions Hockey League
The second week of the Champions Hockey League is in the books now. My recap of week one can be found from here. Below are some highlights from the second week. Enjoy!
And that’s all for now. Feel free to add comments below. Follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.