Playoffs are now over in major European leagues like the KHL, SHL and Liiga. We’ve seen many drafted prospects sign their entry level contracts lately. Some free agents have been signed out of Europe as well. Many more free agents are still deciding who to sign with. Here are my thoughts on those players.
27-year-old center Oula Palve signed a one-year contract with the Penguins. It’s a great story because he played second-tier hockey in Finland just three years ago but I have concerns about his ability to play in the NHL. If everything breaks perfectly for him, perhaps he could be a number three center – similar to Antti Suomela with the Sharks. But more likely scenario is that Palve plays a bit in the AHL and returns to Europe shortly after. Palve has had two great seasons in the Liiga but he’s 27, so what you see is what you get – and I don’t think it’s good enough.
24-year-old winger Ilya Mikheyev is rumored to be signing with the Maple Leafs. I like Mikheyev a lot and think he can jump straight to the NHL and play on the third line. He has good size (6-2, 194) and he plays a good two-way game which allows him to play lower in the lineup. But there is definitely some offensive talent there as well. I don’t like Toronto as a landing spot for him, though, because they have so many other options. I fear Mikheyev might get lost in the shuffle.
21-year-old center Arttu Ruotsalainen is rumored to be signing with the Sabres. He’s a talented offensive forward who has always been one of the top players in his age group in Finland but has been overlooked because of his size (5-8, 181). But a