Swedish Elite League – Erik Karlsson
The Ottawa Senators surprised many when they selected Erik Karlsson 15th overall in the 2008 draft. Currently listed at 5’11 and 165 pounds, the biggest knocks against Karlsson are boosting his speed and bulking up. Despite his size he still dishes out big hits and that will improve as he fills out. Karlsson currently anchors the blue line for Vastra Frolunda HC Goteborg of the SEL, notching 1 goal and 2 assists in 23 games. He is using his excellent hockey sense and positional play to full advantage this season, only picking up 8 PIM. No doubt the Senators could use a big hitter in their own zone. Don’t be shocked if he’s at training camp in 2009.
Kontinental Hockey League – Evgeni Dadonov
This has been a difficult period for Russian prospects. Alexei Cherepanov, picked 17th by the New York Rangers in 2007, died tragically during a KHL game. Kirill Petrov, selected 73rd overall by the Islanders in 2007 has yet to play a game this season with Kazan Ak-Bars due to an undisclosed injury. Luckily Evgeni Dadonov, Florida’s third rounder (71st overall in 2007) has stayed healthy. The nineteen-year-old clocks in at a solid 5’10, 178 pounds and has amassed 3 goals and 3 assists in 23 games with Chelyabinsk Traktor. He was at the Panther’s training camp and drew praise from Scott Luce, Director of Scouting who compared Dadonov to Pavel Datsyuk. The biggest draw back against Dadonov is the lack of a transfer agreement between Russia and the NHL, but Florida has to take some risks.
Czech League - Tomas Kubalik
Czech draft picks such as Jakub Voracek (#7 in 2007), Michal Repik (40th in 2007) and Tomas Kundratek (90th in 2008) have successfully made the jump to playing in North America’s top hockey leagues. This bodes well for Tomas Kubalik, picked 135th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008. Kubalik, 6’2, 189 pounds makes up in chippiness what he lacks in point production. He’s only posted 1 assist in 20 games with his hometown team Plzen HC but picked up 37 PIM. Rough and tumble is picking up in the NHL but Kubalik must improve his skating to stand a solid shot at becoming a third or fourth line grinder.