An Eye on Europe

As I’ve done literally forever, here’s a look at potential European free agents who might cross the pond (a note for Sens fans: scouting in Europe is expensive, so don’t expect any signings from Bryan Murray & Co).  Last year I identified 5 players who were subsequently signed, although there’s always a delayed trickle down effect where a player noted from a a few years before also gets picked up.  For a look at how to judge production in Europe and how it translates to the NHL, go here; while you can see European free agent success stories here.

John Norman 47-17-25-42
Had a career year with Skelleftea, the undrafted 25-year old is second in team scoring behind former San Jose draft pick Patrik Zackrisson, the numbers far above his usual production (previous high was 17 points in 2011-12); while an aberration in scoring should give GMs caution, it rarely does
Markus Ljungh 48-13-23-36
The 5’9 undrafted 25-year old had a career year with Djurgardens (just his second in the SHL), finishing third in scoring just ahead of Sorensen (below), but well behind team leader Patrick Thoresen
Marcus Sorensen 47-15-19-34
The player Ottawa drafted in 2010; the 23-year old has posted good, consistent numbers with Djurgardens the past four seasons (23, 30, 32, 34), and while his production won’t blow anyone out of the water, as an energy player it’s possible an NHL team takes a shot at him
Pathrik Vesterholm 52-7-26-33
The 24-year old former Vancouver draft pick (2011) had a career season with Brynas (his second in the SHL), finishing fourth in team scoring
Linus Hultstrom 52-12-19-31
The undrafted 23-year old, righthanded blueliner is coming off his second consecutive season as a top point-producer (this year for Djurgardens), just ahead of undrafted 26-year old Marcus Hogstrom; criticised for his defensive lapses, I think his offensive potential should be enough to entice someone to take a chance on him
Lukas Bengtsson 30-7-7-14
The undrafted 21-year old, righthanded defenseman has put together a strong, injury-plagued season with Frolunda, although the small sample size works against him
Joel Lassinantti 1.95 .921
I identified the undrafted 23-year old last year, but at 5’9 teams stayed away–perhaps yet another strong season with Lulea (fourth in the league in save percentage) will finally earn him a shot

Juuso Ikonen 54-9-28-39
The 5’9 21-year old had a career year with Karpat, finishing behind Carolina draft pick Sebastian Aho; at his age it’s remarkable that this is his fourth full season playing in the Liiga; his size works against him
Jarno Karki 54-17-19-36
At 6’4 the 21-year old is a wet dream for some GMs; he had a career season with Assat, leading them in scoring; amusingly, former Red Line Report wet-dream Troy Vance (he’s 6’5!) is finishing out the poorly thought out ELC Dallas gave him three years ago here
Otso Rantakari 37-5-15-20
The 22-year old, righthanded blueliner struggled when moved mid-season to MODO from the Blues (17-0-4-4), but may have shown enough in Finland for teams to take a chance on him
Sami Rajaniemi 2.36 .915/1.52 .939
Has put up incredible numbers since getting loaned to Karpat by the Pelicans; the undrafted 23-year could be of interest
Dominik Hrachovina 2.34 .922
Consistently puts up better numbers at the highest level (Tappara) than in junior, but the sample size for the 21-year old Czech goaltender (17 games) might be too small for GMs

Lino Martschini 50-26-28-54
The 5’6, 23-year old undrafted forward may have finally done enough with Zug to get offers from NHL teams (Mats Zuccarello was too small for the NHL as well); he finished second in scoring behind former NHLer Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Niklas Schlegel 2.16 .925
At only 5’10, the 21-year old is unlikely to get an offer, but he did have a career season with ZSC; incidentally, this is where David Rundblad has wound up (on loan from Chicago)

Jan Kovar 58-20-32-52
It seems like I bring up the Czech forward every year, but it’s unlikely any NHL team can offer the 25-year old enough money to cross the pond by now; he’s put up excellent numbers in the KHL for the past five years
Anatoli Golyshev 56-25-19-44
The undrafted 21-year old forward put up career numbers with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (leading them in scoring); signed until the end of time, it’s possible an NHL team could pry him loose
Danill Apalkov 59-16-27-43
The 24-year old forward had a career year with Lokomotiv, leading them in scoring; he’s signed through next season, so that (and the other problems with the KHL) make him crossing the pond unlikely

Other European Leagues
[All these players are more likely to sign AHL or ECHL deals if they are signed at all]
Petr Holik 52-11-30-41
One of only two players from the bottomed out Czech League I’ve included, the 24-year old forward had a career season with Zlin, leading the team in scoring by a comfortable margin; at 5’8 his chances of being signed are very slim (he’s much more likely to jump to the KHL)
Libor Kasik 1.90 .929
A career season for the 23-year old Zlin goaltender; by far the best numbers among younger Czech netminders; his size (5’11) will hurt him
Konstantin Komarek 42-17-23-40
Plays in a weak league (Austria), but the 23-year old had a career year with Salzburg, finishing fifth in overall scoring; the odds of him being signed are minute (he’s more likely to jump to a better European league)
Lukas Herzog 1.74 .928
The sample-size for the 23-year old is very small with Villacher (5 games at the top level), but his numbers are very good–like Komarek he’s far more likely to be signed to one of the higher European leagues
Mathias Niederberger 2.27 .930
The only player from the moribund DEL I’ve included, the 23-year old spent time in the CHL and briefly in the minor leagues previously before returning to Germany, but goaltenders are a strange breed and after a career year with Dusseldorfer he may earn himself another shot

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)



  1. […] Sens pick Marcus Sorensen has been signed by San Jose as a free agent–he was on my list of potential signings and it will be interesting to see how he does with the […]

  2. […] decided to look back at my prognostication of the European free agent pool (posted back in March), so below includes all the NHL-signings (including players from previous lists) along with any […]

  3. […] turn out (a note for Sens fans: Ottawa doesn’t partake).  You can see last year’s list here.  For a look at how to judge production in Europe and how it translates to the NHL, go here; while […]

  4. […] others from prior lists (Vincent Praplan and Par Lindholm from my 2017 list; Juuso Ikonen from my 2016 list, and Yasin Ehliz from my 2015 […]

  5. […] enjoyed a career year in Sweden last season (playing backup to Joel Lassinantti–someone who appeared on my European FA list a couple of times, but has been passed over due to size), so why did the […]

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