European Free Agents of Interest

freeagent

I’ve been posting a piece like this for years (lot’s of publications do something similar with undrafted NCAA players, but that’s never really translated elsewhere).  I find it interesting to see who NHL GM’s take a chance on and which of those actually 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 you can see European free agent success stories here.  My focus is on players 25 and younger.

SHL
Scoring in the league is quite low
Johan Sundstrom, C, 24, 6’3 Frolunda 43-12-26-38
The first player listed that was actually drafted (2-50/11), spending three years spinning his tires in the Islanders system; that AHL experience may scare GM’s away, but equally they may think he wasn’t handled properly; he lead his team in both scoring and PPG (points-per-game)
Sebastian Aho D, 21, 5’10 Skelleftea 46-10-20-30
He could still be drafted, but has been passed over quite a few times already (he was ranked fairly highly in 2015, but largely forgotten last year); the reluctance is related to his size, but perhaps this year’s performance will be enough to overcome those fears (he’s second in the league in points and PPG among defensemen)
Par Lindholm, C, 25, 5’10 Skelleftea 35-14-15-29
Having a career year, albeit on a very talented team
Allsvenskan (tier-2)
Victor Ejdsell C/LW, 21, 6’5 Karlskoga 49-24-32-56
Given his size and gaudy numbers there’s a good chance someone will sign him

Liiga
Scoring ratios are higher than in the SHL
Henrik Haapala LW/RW, 23, 5’9 Tappara 48-14-43-57
Leads the league in both scoring and points-per-game, perhaps enough production to overcome NHL objections to his size; his stats aren’t being boosted by exceptionally talented linemates, so at least by Liiga standards, the Finn has had an epic season
Iikka Kangasniemi LW/RW, 22, 5’8 Pelicans 42-10-28-38
Given that he’s on a talented team these numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt; his size also makes it unlikely he’ll get a look, but it remains a possibility
Antti Suomela C, 22, 6’0 JYP 50-20-20-40
Leads his team in scoring and PPG, albeit he may be the beneficiary of a pair of veteran linemates
Mikko Lehtonen D, 23, 6’0 KooKoo 43-6-19-25
Currently loaned to HV71 (SHL) where he has lower numbers, he’s the top-performing blueliner in this age group in the Liiga, although GM’s might want to see him in another league for a full-season before taking a chance on him
Alexandar Georgiyev G, 21, 6’1 TPS 1.63 .924
Could be drafted as an overager; having a career year leading all goaltenders in his age group in both GAA and save percentage
Dominik Hrachovina G, 22, 5’10 Tappara 2.05 .922
Having a similar season to his last (a better GAA, but same save percentage); he’s probably too short for NHL teams to sign him

NLA
Scoring is about on par with the Liiga
Lino Martschini RW, 24, 5’6 Zug 50-23-26-49
I’ve brought the diminutive player up before, but his size scares GM’s away
Vincent Praplan LW/RW, 22, 5’11 Kloten 50-15-27-42
Played in the OHL (13-14) making him more familiar to scouts; he’s third on his team in scoring with enough separation from the next tier of players that his numbers don’t seem inflated
Yannick Rathgeb D, 21, 6’1 Gotteron 45-11-23-34
Played two seasons in the OHL (13-15), which is either a pro or con depending on how you look at it; he’s far and away the most productive blueliner on his team
Luca Boltshauser G, 23, 6’0 Kloten 2.60 .925
On the small side for NHL goaltenders, but has the best save percentage of other backstops in his age group
Niklas Schlegel G, 22, 5’10 ZSC 2.07 .920
Better overall numbers than his partner, although he’s played fewer games; on the small side which tends to prevent goaltenders from coming over

KHL
The huge gap in quality of teams creates wildly variant stats
Vladimir Tkachyov LW, 21, 5’10 Vladivostok 49-14-25-39
Spent two seasons in the QMJLH (13-15) and was considered by a few for the draft in 2015; he’s second on his team in scoring with a large gap between he and the next tier of production; his size may cause some hesitation for some GMs
Miro Aaltonen C/W, 23, 5’10 Vityaz 59-19-25-44
Drafted (6-177/13), but I believe Anaheim’s rights to him expire at the end of the season making him a free agent; I’m assuming his continued time in Europe is a sign of either his disinterest in signing with the Ducks or vice versa; his KHL numbers could be boosted from linemates and his size may cause some hesitation
Jakub Jerabek D, 25, 5’11 Vityaz 59-5-29-34
I identified him a couple of years ago when he was in the Czech league; his size is an issue for the NHL, but he is miles ahead of his blueline teammates in production

Other leagues (Czech, DEL, etc)
It’s very infrequent for players to be signed directly from these leagues–typically a strong performance leads to playing for a better European league and then earning an NHL-contract
Tomas Hyka RW. 23, 5’11 Czech Mlada Boleslav 47-17-21-38
Spent two years in the QMJHL (11-13) and was drafted by Los Angeles (6-171/12), but never signed; he substantially leads his team in scoring and if not signed by an NHL team is likely headed to the KHL
Leo Pfoderl RW/LW. 23, 6’0 DEL Nurnberg 52-22-26-48
Third on his team in scoring and likely helped by talented teammates; more likely to jump to a better paying European league (NLA or KHL)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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9 Comments

  1. […] old European FA David Kampf (52-15-16-31) out of the Czech league; he didn’t make my FA list (or my 2014 draft list), but he was once a reasonably touted prospect (as per Central Scouting). […]

  2. […] EU FA was taken off my list as Nashville signed 6’5 Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell, who had a monster season in the […]

  3. […] more EU FA’s were signed (not on my list).  The first by San Jose, an organisation that has made such free agents it’s […]

  4. […] Leafs signing Miro Aaltonen (in March, despite Tweeting about it), whom I identified in my list of potential European Free Agents.  He was an Anaheim pick in 2013 (6-177), but either he or the Ducks weren’t interested in […]

  5. […] more free agents were signed off my list, as forwards Henrik Haapala (Florida) and former King pick Tomas Hyka (Vegas) were signed. […]

  6. […] taken along with a lot more fence-swinging: Senn, Fraser (CS), Hults, Gunnarsson, Aho (a favourite of mine), Drozg, and Olund (CS). There were also single-selections […]

  7. […] 51-26-18-44 Struggling the previous two seasons he had an excellent year riding shotgun with FA signee Victor Ejdsell and former ECHLer Alex Lavoie; he’s signed with Karlskrona in the SHL for the […]

  8. […] Rangers signed goaltender Alexandar Georgiyev (who I included on my list of free agents months ago–he’s the seventh off that particular list and possibly the last from it to […]

  9. […] Praplan is in the same situation with San Jose (he’s one of the European free agents I identified months […]


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