Prospect Ramblings: Draft-Plus One Dominance in European Pro Leagues

by Cam Robinson on November 17, 2017

 

 

This week we’re going to dig into three draft-plus one players who are off to tremendous starts in their respective European professional leagues.

 

Eeli Tolvanen, Elias Pettersson and Miro Heiskanen are making some of Europe’s top pro circuits look like pee wee house leagues. Each is doing so by a harnessing their specific talents and each of their club teams and NHL organizations are surely loving it.

 

This is not a common occurrence and something that needs to garner some more ink.

 

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If you’ve followed my previous Ramblings, I usually save a portion at the end to shine a light on the ridiculous season that Tolvanen – Nashville’s first round pick, 30th overall this past June, is having.

 

The 18-year-old left-winger is continuing to have his way against arguably the second-best competition in the world.

 

After concluding October with a four-game pointless streak, the Jokerit superstar has rattled off six points in his last three games, including a two goal, two assist match this past Wednesday.

 

That brings his season totals up to 16 goals, 29 points and 117 shots in 28 KHL games. His nearly 4.2 shots per contest is indicative of the offense he creates on the vast majority of his shifts, and while he’s a known and proven sniper, converting on 13.7 percent of his attempts appears to be a very sustainable metric.

 

He’s also managed to split his production evenly throughout his deployment, scoring eight goals at even-strength and eight more on the man-advantage.

 

I use historical comparisons often, as they can provide the evidence needed to really hammer home the ridiculous level of production from the former USHL all-star.

 

Tolvanen is primed to whiz by Evgeni Kuznetsov’s U19 scoring mark in mere moments and has his sights firmly set on the mark set by Kirill Kaprizov a season ago in the U20 category (despite being a year younger).

 

All-time U19 Stats – KHL

 

 

 

Nashville remains an organization that has historically held their prospects down for extra marinating time, but they did find a way to squeeze Filip Forsberg into the lineup without much trouble. Tolvanen is that level of player and while he’ll need to re-adjust back to the small ice when he returns to North American and his defensive side of things needs some cleaning up, you cannot teach his level of goal-scoring ability.

 

This is a player destined to score a boatload of goals in the NHL.

 

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Heading over to Sweden, another 2017 first rounder is making the SHL look like a cake walk.

 

The Vancouver Canucks’ top pick from last June, Elias Pettersson has continued his torrid and historic pace with Växjö HC.

 

In the last month, the lanky forward has accumulated eight goals and 17 points in 11 games bringing his season totals to eight goals and 20 points in 17 contests. That mark is good for fourth most in the league this season and 12 points clear of the next highest scoring under-20 player (Tim Söderlund – 6+2 in 17 GP).

 

His 1.18 points-per-game put him firmly in third place all-time for U20 seasons in SHL history, behind only Peter Forsberg (1992-93) and Kent Nilsson (1975-76).

 

 

*Side Note! It's fun to imagine Foppa piling up 92 PIMs in 39 games as a teenager back in the early nineties. Man could that guy ever play a power and skill game*

In Pettersson's most recent outing on Thursday, he wasn’t overly noticeable through the first two periods of play but made his mark when his team needed him most. Down 3-1 in the third period, the just-turned 19-year-old scored a beauty of a one timer:

 

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He followed that up with a patient and deadly snipe to tie the game with just 33 seconds remaining to force overtime. Växjö would eventually win it in the shootout

 

 

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While Pettersson didn’t participate in the most recent Karjala Cup tournament for team Sweden– an Olympic tune-up event, the 2017 fifth overall selection is firmly on the Tre Kronor’s radar for the Games, and for good reason.

 

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Finally, we take our journey to Finland and the Liiga. There, the 2017 third overall pick, Miro Heiskanen is off to a tremendous start.

 

Despite suffering an early season concussion that sidelined him for a handful of games, the smooth-skating and heady rearguard is playing like a man (teenager) possessed.

 

He currently sits third in scoring by U20 players (he’s only 18) with seven goals and 11 points through 11 contests, despite playing half as many games as those in front (and behind) him.

 

That point-per-game clip is far and away the leader for that age-group category, and he’s also demonstrating exquisite defensive play as well; often seeing north of 24 minutes a game and dominating the corsi figures.

 

 

Heiskanen is all but assured a spot on his national team for the upcoming Olympics and could be a breakout player to watch.

 

His upside is tremendous.

 

 

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There are few reasons to expect any of these three players to stick with their European club teams for 2018-19, and all three have a strong shot at beginning next season with their NHL clubs.

 

I’m not sure if I can recall a year where three separate draft-plus one players have displayed such dominance in top professional leagues as these three teenagers are accomplishing right now. It’s exciting for all those involved – including those lucky enough to own their rights in the fantasy world, and these are storylines we’ll be tracking all season long.

 

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Thanks for reading and as always, feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I’m usually spouting off some sort of hockey-related quip.