European League/KHL UpdateSaturday, October 13, 2012
While the ongoing labor stoppage has dominated headlines in North America, there’s no shortage of professional hockey action taking place overseas. Here’s a look at five NHLers who have taken their talents to the Euro Zone with great success.
Ilya Kovalchuk – Fresh off a 37-goal, 83-point campaign for the New Jersey Devils, Kovalchuk has racked up five goals and nine assists for 14 points since joining SKA Saint Petersburg, the second-highest scoring team in the KHL. The Russian sniper appears to be very comfortable playing in his homeland and has already become an integral part of the franchise, averaging 3.7 shots in nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game. Despite giving the rest of the league a head start, Kovalchuk stands a great chance of leading the KHL in scoring, should the NHL lockout last for an extended period.
Alex Steen – As a second line player with the St. Louis Blues, Steen’s career-best season is the 51-point campaign he enjoyed in 2010-11, but the NHL veteran’s offensive talent is being put on display in his native Swedish Elite League. Despite missing the year’s first four contests, Steen currently sits atop the scoring table for league-leading MODO with 13 points in only eight games and trails the league lead by only one point. His 1.62 points-per-game average greatly outpaces every other player in the SEL. It will be interesting to see whether the Blues take notice of his scoring prowess and expand his offensive responsibilities with the club once the league resumes play.
Logan Couture – While the acquisitions of Joe Thornton and Rick Nash by HC Davos were the most notable signings in the Swiss League so far this year, Sharks’ young star Couture has been the most productive transfer to date. Playing for powerhouse Geneva, Couture has recorded eight points in seven games while firing 23 shots on goal and registering a plus-6 rating. It should come as no surprise that a player of Couture’s caliber is dominating this league, but he has exceeded all expectations, unlike fellow NHLers Nash and Jason Spezza, who have struggled to produce desired results.
Nail Yakupov – He may have suited up for only six games with the KHL club Neftekhimik, but this past June’s first overall selection has already turned heads around the league by finding the back of the net five times in that span. While fellow Edmonton Oilers phenoms Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall can look forward to feasting on their AHL opponents during the NHL labor stoppage, Yakupov is getting his first taste of pro hockey and acquitting himself quite well in the process. Being an Oilers fan these days must be fun.
Mark Streit – Any blueliner who can average 50 points per season in the NHL over a five year span is clearly a talented player so it should be expected that Streit would rank among the highest scoring defensemen in the Swiss league and the New York Islanders’ power-play quarterback is doing just that. In eight games playing in his home town with SC Bern, Streit has put up seven points and a whopping 22 shots on net, including six in the team’s most recent 6-3 win over HC Davos. The veteran’s last taste of Swiss League action came in 2004-05 when he scored 43 points in 44 contests with Zurich before making the move across the pond to join the Montreal Canadiens in 2005-06. Don't forget to buy Rotoworld's Fantasy Hockey Guide!