Forward Prospects in European Leagues

Last week, I examined draft prospects from the Canadian Hockey League by looking at their point-per-game totals at the junior level to see what players might be overlooked by scouts. I discovered a couple of prospects projected to be drafted outside of the first round that could be very useful pieces to the Hurricanes somewhere down the line. Going by just goals and points alone isn’t the best way to evaluate prospects because there are plenty of other ways that a forward can contribute without scoring. Not to mention all the other random factors that occur during a hockey game which can produce misleading results, but I am not able to watch many games from the lower levels and can only judge prospects by what I see. Therefore, I utilize stats, Youtube videos, scouting reports and watch as many games as I can to get the lowdown on prospects. 

Basically, what I am saying is that I am not an expert in this field by any means but I’m going to do my best to breakdown some of the players in this draft and single out ones who I think would make a good fit for the Hurricanes. We have the CHL players covered, now let’s move onto the players who were in European Leagues this season. There are a lot of talented forwards coming from across the Atlantic and quite a few of them are going to have their name’s called on Day 1 of the draft. Are there any who the Hurricanes might be interested in? Long story short, yes.

A list of these players and some further analysis is coming after the jump.

NHL Draft Forward Prospects From European Leagues

Player Pos. GP G Pts P/G Team League
Nikolai Prokhorkin C 15 1 2 0.1 CSKA MHL
Vyacheslav Osnovin C 45 7 25 0.6 Chelyabinsk MHL
Arseni Khatsei C 36 10 15 0.4 Spartak MHL
Tomas Hertl C 38 12 25 0.7 HC Slavia Prah Czech
Pontus Aberg LW 47 8 15 0.3 Djurgarden SEL
Erik Thorell LW 44 3 6 0.1 Farjestad SEL
Jeremy Boyce LW 46 2 3 0.1 Timra SEL
Teuvo Teravainen LW 40 11 18 0.5 Jokerit SM-Liiga
Anton Slepyshev LW 39 4 7 0.2 Novokuznetsk KHL
Nikita Gusev LW 15 1 3 0.2 CSKA MHL
Nathan Walker LW 34 4 9 0.3 Vikovice Czech
Emil Lundberg LW 54 10 16 0.3 Sodertalje Allsvenskan
Henri Ikonen LW 37 15 45 1.2 Kalpa Jr. A SM Liiga
Erik Karlsson LW 47 14 33 0.7 Frolunda SuperElit
Sebastian Collberg RW 41 0 0 0 Frolunda SEL
Alexander Barabanov RW 48 18 39 0.8 SKA MHL
Alexei Fillipov RW ### Chelyabinsk MHL
Filip Forsberg RW 43 8 17 0.4 Leksands Allsvenskan

Before I say anything, remember this. A good few of these players are currently playing in adult leagues as teenagers, and it’s going to affect their point total. Anyone who is a 20 goal scorer or a point-per game player as a teenager in SEL or SM Liiga is likely going to be heralded a future superstar (see Mikael Granlund). There don’t appear to be any players of that caliber in this draft class but those are very rare to find. However, there are a few fantastic players who I could easily see being in the Hurricanes’ system come October.

The one player who seems to be on everyone’s radar is Teuvo Teravainen. Projected to be a top-10 pick, a lot of mocks have the Hurricanes taking him at #8 because he fits their needs. The Canes have little to no organizational depth at the forward position and Teravainen gives them an instant boost there. The fact that he is only 17 years old and already playing for Jokerit and SM-Liiga (Finnish pro league) should tell you that he is a special kind of player who is way ahead of other prospects. His numbers with Jokerit aren’t going to wow anyone but he’s just a kid and some of the guys he is playing against are almost twice his age. If he was dominating in SM-Liiga then he would be projected to be much higher than he is now.

With that being said, Teravainen has cruised through the lower levels and was at least a point-per-game player for Team Finland in the U-18 and U-20 international tournaments. As for his numbers with Jokerit, in addition to being a small fish in a big lake, Teravainen also started the year as a fourth liner and worked his way through the rankings to become the secondl line center. He was given more minutes in the playofffs and had 6 points in 9 games. Jokerit was a pretty strong team this year, too so he definitely had to impress to earn his minutes.

Teravainen’s scoring ability is one of the many things that makes him such a coveted prospect but scouting reports also state that he has excellent vision and hockey instincts along with solid playmaking skills. He’s got a great shot and always seems to know where to be on the ice. Very impressive for such a young player. From the sound of things, he is a similar player to Jeff Skinner in the sense that he is a great goal-scorer and an offensive threat. Where he differs from Skinner is that his skating ability is not one of his strong suits and that will likely be something that he works on before joining an NHL roster. He also doesn’t have much strength but that will probably change as he gets older.

Whetheror not the Hurricanes select Teravainen will depend on how much patience they plan to have with their first round pick. Teravainen is at least another year away from making it in the NHL as he still needs to bulk up a bit and work on his skating so if the Canes want someone who can make an immediate impact, they will look elsewhere. However, almost any player they take at #8 isn’t going to be ready by next year and Teravainen could be the best player available then. The Hurricanes don’t need to rush things right now so I think Teravainen is a safe enough pick should he be available.

One player who might be NHL ready by next season is Filip Forsberg who is projected to go as early as #2 in some mock drafts. For a 17 year old, he has a very impressive frame at 6’1″ and 176 lbs. and has been touted by draft experts as a “big physical forward” with little to no holes in his game. Forsberg appears to be the complete package as he possesses a strong all-around game and can work well at both ends of the rink. As for his performance in Europe, he is already playing for Leksand one of the Swedish profesional leagues and his goals & point totals may not be impressive but, like Teravainen, he is a kid playing in a professional league. At the other levels, Forsberg has been impressive and was very good for Team Sweden in international tournaments. Forsberg doesn’t appear to be the scorer that Teravainen is but his all-around ability has made him a more valuable player to a lot of scouts. His size and skill set fit the Hurricanes’ needs perfectly but it seems doubtful that he will be available at #8.

Another teenager who is currently playing in the pros in Sweden is Pontus Aberg and he has already established himself as a solid offensive threat. He’s been a point-per-game player in all but one year in junior hockey and posted pretty good numbers for a teenager in the pros last season. Aberg’s best asset is his skating and his offensive upside. He has a great shot, spends a lot of time on the powerplay and is known to be a terrific puck-handler as well. Size, physicality and defensive issues are what is keeping him back and he is a year older than both Forsberg and Teravainen. I don’t think that he is behind in his development, though because he still has plenty of time to improve his defensive game. That being said, Aberg at #8 is probably a reach because he is more of a one-way player. The same goes for Sebastien Collberg, who has tore it up at every level but the pros. Collberg’s willingness to get involved physically is something some teams might value, though.

As for players inthelater rounds, one guy who I am interested in is Henri Ikonen. He was a 17 year old for most of the season and crushed the Kalpa Under-20 team this season with 45 points in 37 games. I had difficulty finding a scouting report on him but he has a pretty good frame (6″0′ 194 lbs.) and his performance at the junior level certainly speaks for itself. Without much game tape or first-hand accounts to refer to, it’s tough to say what holes he has in his game but I would guess that scouts have concerns on whether or not his skills translate to the pro-level or not. He played 8 games with Kalpa’s pro team and recorded only one point, but that’s too small of a sample size to determine anything. He is at least a few years away from being NHL ready, but I think the Canes should consider him as mid-late round pick if he is available.

If anyone has anymore information on these prospects and which ones would be a good fit for the Hurricanes, I would love to hear your input as my knowledge of this is pretty limited.