An Eye on Europe

[I’ve updated this article (September 30th) to see where the players listed have wound up this season.  Updates are in italics.]

The Ottawa Senators under Bryan Murray have rarely dipped into European leagues except to draft players out of Sweden, but they have brought in veterans to play in Binghamton (such as Justin Mapletoft from the DEL in 2007-08) and I think it’s possible they could sign an undrafted player out of Europe (much as they do via the NCAA and junior).  I looked at this last year as well.

While there’s debate over which European league is the best outside the NHL, most opinions I’ve read settle on the SEL (the Swedish league).  The KHL is usually next, but given Ottawa’s reluctance to deal with players from that league I’ve ignored it this time around.  As I go through the leagues I’ll list the most interesting prospects (if any).  I’ve indicated where prospects were ranked by Central Scouting where applicable and those coloured in green were on last year’s list.

Here’s a glance at the SEL (in terms of prospects I also looked at the Allsvenskan, the Swedish second-tier pro league, but no one stuck out):
Broc Little, LW/RW, AIK, 55-16-30-46, small (5’9) 24-year old undrafted college grad (Yale); he was listed by Red Line Report as one of the better NCAA FA’s back when he graduated – signed an AHL deal with Springfield
Oscar Fantenberg, D, HV71, 28-3-11-14, 21-year old signed through 13/14, but may have an opt-out clause – remains with HV71
Johan Alm, D, Skelleftea, 55-3-5-8, big (6’3) 21-year old; ranked #28 CSE in 2010; signed through 14/15, but may have an opt-out clause – remains with Skelleftea

Here’s the SM-Liiga (I also looked at the Mestis, the Finnish second-tier pro league, but no one stuck out):
Sakari Salminen, RW/LW, KalPa, 54-26-29-55, 24-year old; played for Finland in the WJC – signed in the KHL
Jere Sallinen, LW/RW, HPK, 57-15-27-42, 22-year old went unsigned by Minnesota (6-163/09); played for Finland in the WJC – remains with HPK
Kristian Nakyva, D, JYP, 59-6-22-28, 22-year old; ranked #29 CSE in 2009; played for Finland in the WJC – remains with JYP
Olavi Vauhkonen, RW, SaiPa, 46-10-12-22, 24-year old big (6’4) physical winger; #159 CSE 2008 – remains with SaiPa

The Swiss league (NLA) and the NLB (the second-tier league):
Joel Vermin, C/W, Bern, 47-13-22-35, 21-year old; #31 CSE in 2010; played for Switzerland at the WJC – signed an ELC with Tampa, but was loaned back to Bern
Killian Mottet, F, Ajoie (NLB), 50-28-32-60, undersized 22-year old – graduates to Gotteron in the NLA
Sami El Assaoui, D, La Chaux-de-Fonds (NLB), 34-3-22-25, undersized 21-year old; signed through 13/14, but may have an opt out clause – graduates to Ambri-Potta in the NLA
[Simon Moser was on last year’s list and signed an ELC with Nashville after making the team on a PTO]

The German league (DEL):
Bernhard Ebner, D, Dusseldorf, 52-5-21-26, 22-year old – remains with Dusseldorf

The Czech league (Extraliga):
Jan Kovar, C/LW, HC Plzen, 52-17-34-51, 22-year old was tenth in league scoring; played for the Czech’s in the WJC – signed in the KHL

The Austrian league (Erste Bank Liga):
Richard Jarusek, RW, Orli Znojmo, 54-25-26-51, 21-year old – remains with Orli Znojmo

The Slovakian league (Extraliga):
Michael Vandas, RW, HK SKP Poprad, 49-21-31-52, 22-year old; played for the Slovaks in the WJC – signed in the Czech Elite League

I didn’t see anyone worth listing from the Danish (AL-Bank Ligaen) and Norwegian (Get Ligaen) leagues.  [So two players, if I give myself Moser, signed ELC’s while another (Little) has joined the AHL.  This is a little better than I did last year.]

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)



  1. Nobody really stands out from your list. Wasn’t there a rumor early in the season that the Sens were looking at a small russian d-man that Gonchar played with while he was in the KHL this year? Any news on him.

    And how about an old Sens prospect Matthais Karlsson? He played well in the AHL before he left for Sweden.

    • Vladimir Antipin, if my memory is correct, is the guy you are thinking of, but that was a rumour I had had trouble believing. The Sens have been very reluctant to go after KHL players under Bryan Murray and they’ve said nothing to suggest that’s changed.

  2. Nice work! Keep it up!

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