Prospect Ramblings: European Performers

Dave Hall

2021-03-16

Welcome back to Tuesday’s Prospect Ramblings.

Before I get started, I must remind you to grab Dobber’s Midseason Fantasy Hockey Guide. It’s full of mid-season updates, prospect predictions, and second-half projections. Click here to purchase.

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Since the NHL is alive and well, It’s been quite some time since I chatted about prospects from across the pond. This is a total shame, as there are some very impressive seasons being had across all of the European leagues. As you can guess, that all changes today.

The majority of leagues in Europe are in the late stages of their regular seasons, while some have recently wrapped them up. With that in mind, I will take this opportunity to highlight a few of those league’s top-performing prospects. Some of which took the title as a top producer, while others were mere prospects that I personally took a liking to, and believe that they have what it takes to jump past their previous upside.

Alas, here is a list with one or two prospects from each of the top European leagues.

SHL

The Red Wings own a ton of real estate in the SHL right now, with a total of seven prospects taking reps within the league. Most of them have all enjoyed strong seasons, however, non more impressive (in my personal opinion) than Jonatan Berggren.

While 2020-21 was technically Berggren’s third campaign in the SHL, injuries have kept his game log quite limited. That is until this season. Now healthy, the 2018 Red Wing draftee enjoyed a healthy and certainly expected boost in his statistical output. His 41 points (in 46 games) has not only dominated the U21 circuit, besting Nils Lundqvist (who impressively sat second among this age class, as a defender) by 12 points but sits in a tie for sixth, league-wide.

Here is a teaser of what kid can do:

The 20-year-old is your prototypical point-getter with a slightly undersized build, shifty and swift skating abilities, and of course, tremendous hands. He is poised to assist the Wings’ long-term top-six outlook, and with the exception of Lucas Raymond, is undoubetly the club’s most anticipated European skater (not include Moritz Sieder, who has completed a full season in North America).

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I just can’t leave the SHL without highlighting my favorite defender prospect, Nils Lundqvist. The Rangers boast a list of very capable, and extremely talented puck mover on the backend, but Nils certainly gives this list a run for its money. The hope was that he would ink a deal last spring, and make his debut within the organization – whether it be in New York or Hartford – during the 2020-21 campaign. However, with Covid takings its toll on most North American leagues, he decided to stay put. What a decision it was. He is currently filling the scoresheet at a wonderous rate, sitting ninth league-wide in scoring among defenders, while leading that same list in powerplay tallies, with seven.

His thirst for offense is fierce, and he steadily searches for opportunities at all times. He has tremendous hands, even better puck distribution skills, and can deliver the boom with both velocity and pin-point accuracy from afar. He has 142 shots-on-goal, so, Rangers fans, expect a lot of this:

And this:

As a right-handed shot, his destiny should be top-unit powerplay. Yet, with Adam Fox in the mix, and likely with the upper hand, a healthy battle is surely on the menu. Not to worry, regardless of who wins top duties, fans can feel extremely comfortable with their quarterbacking potential over the next decade.

Liiga

Although his season has seen just 24 games, thanks to a small injury and a pitstop at this year’s WJC, Anton Lundell has faired extremely well in his draft plus-one year, both statically and developmentally. At just 19, he was blessed with an “A” on his chest, summing up his leadership qualities in a single letter. Statistically, he currently sits sixth league-wide with regards to points-per-game, firing at an impressive 1.04 clip.

Whether it’s in a top league (as a teen), or Internationally, Lundell rises to the occasion every time. He is one of the more consistent two-way pivots within the NHL system, and seems to bring it on a nightly basis – he doesn’t have off games. Even if he isn’t chipping in on the scoresheet – which he often is – he is conquering shifts in the defensive end. Impressively, he sits 11th in the Liiga in COR%, with a 61.8.

He is poised to become a staple on Panthers’ middle-six as early as possible, which could potentially be this season, and is a shoo-in to become the club’s go-to second-line center.

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This one may be sort of random for some, but…

Juuso Pärssinen was a prospect that really stood out for me at this year’s WJC. While he only produced four points, he seemed to play in all situations, was always in the mix, and likely should have gone home with a better statistical gift bag. The same can be said about his season with TPS this season. With 33 points, the Nashville Predators draftee sat second on his club in scoring, while carrying the load in the assist department, with 25 of those points showing up as helpers.

His initial projection was somewhere along the lines of a bottom-six upside. However, with continuous growth, that could be trending closer to middle-six deployment. Regardless, he may be a wait for fantasy owners and Predators fans alike, but certainly someone worth noting for next season.

Allsvenskan

In 2019, the Vancouver Canucks traded away a disgruntled prospect, that player being Jonathan Dahlén. Well, at 23-year-old, Dahlen finished first in Allsvenskan scoring this season with 71 points and a whopping 1.58 points-per-game.

Coming in with 20 fewer points is the other side of that trade – 21-year-old Linus Karlsson.  In his third season at the Allsvenskan level, Karlsson shattered his previous career-high, with 51 points and an impressive plus-24 rating. His total sits second all-time among U22 points-per-season, and suddenly, this trade is looking more even-keeled, if not trending in favor of the Canucks.

Although he is likely to remain a fringe bottom-six player (middle-six upside), he is becoming a strong piece to the Canucks depth. He is known as a two-way threat, carries a good shot, has solid offensive awareness, and has the pro-level size to boot. The skating could use some work, but overall, he’s an intriguing player to keep tabs on.

DEL

Lukas Reichel, drafted 17th overall in October, is enjoying a strong sophomore season with Berlin. In a condensed season, his 21 points (0.88 points-per-game) sits just three back of his rookie totals, with 18 games to spare. As an 18-year-old, Reichel sits tops among U25 skaters, meaning he has more points than any player within a seven-year range – pretty impressive stuff.

He is an overall strong player with a great motor and a “good at everything” toolkit. it’s no secret that the DEL has been knocked for its place as a strong developmental league. Yet, posting numbers such as this looks good, no matter what professional league it is.

Extraliga

After 11-straight losses, the Buffalo Sabres could use an offensive spark. Perhaps they should look in the Czech league, where their 2019 sixth-round pick has formulated a very nice season. Lukas Rousek, an overaged draft pick, is leading the charge among U22 skaters with 14 goals and 38 points in his fourth season with HC Sparta Praha.

He is most notably known for his explosive skating, more specifically, his explosive speed. He is able to beat defenders clean and act as a constant headache on the forecheck on the defensive side. He is aggressive in nature and looks to be developing quite well, especially as a late-bloomer.

While I was sort of kidding about him helping out the Sabres in the immediate future, Rousek could join the organization as early as next season, whether that be in Buffalo or Rochester.

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As I mentioned, there are a ton of flourishing prospects in Europe, so this article could last for pages. However, there are my go-to’s lately, with respect to each league.

Who are your top-performing young guns?

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Follow me on Twitter @hall1289 for prospect updates.

 

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