Berglund Thriving in SwedenThursday, December 06, 2012
After using this outlet to highlight some of the more unheralded players in Europe a couple of weeks ago, I’m back to showcasing the very best producers thus far in the European game.
Evgeni Malkin – Some of his league opponents received a head start in the scoring race since Malkin didn’t join Metallurg Magnitogorsk until a few games into the campaign But the Penguins superstar has gradually made his way up the ranks, most recently surpassing KHL heavyweight Alexander Radulov. Thanks to a five-point effort in a win over Dinamo Riga, Geno now stands second in league scoring with 41 points, but he continues to trail league-leader and linemate Sergei Mozyakin, who netted four points in that same contest. There’s no question the Russian powerhouse will be all systems go if the NHL hits the ice again soon.
Tyler Seguin – He has been mentioned in this space already this season, but the season Seguin is enjoying in Switzerland is truly remarkable. After breaking out for 67 points with Boston last year, Seguin has racked up 37 points in 24 games with EHC Biel, which is significantly better than many NHL transplants have fared. The arrival of teammate Patrick Kane has been a major reason for Seguin’s success, but even the Chicago forward has not produced at a pace comparable to that of the Bruins phenom. The Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Seguin debate figures to rage on for a number of years, but it’s difficult to argue with the fact that the former Plymouth Whaler currently has a leg up in the race.
Damien Brunner – Despite its reputation as a relatively tight-checking, defensive league, there is one team in the Swiss National League that has produced some eye-popping offensive totals. Playing with NHLers Henrik Zetterberg and Linus Omark, EV Zug’s Brunner is setting the league afire with 47 points in only 26 games. For their part, Omark and Zetterberg have also been very productive, racking up 43 points in 28 games, and 27 in 16, respectively, but Brunner has been the real story. Did we mention that the Red Wings hold his NHL rights? Don’t be surprised if he and Mr. Zetterberg transport some of the chemistry they have shown in Switzerland to a North American rink near you.
Mikael Backlund – Calgary Flames fans have been waiting for former top prospect Backlund to become an offensive force in the NHL for a few years now, as his career-best of 25 points is far from what was expected of him, but it appears he might just have needed some home cooking to help him reach his potential. The Swedish native is currently suiting up with his hometown team VIK Vasteras of the Allsvenskan League, which is where many NHLers are biding their time instead of the Elitserien, as the latter was not willing to permit lockout deals to foreign players, forcing all contracts to be honored for the entire season. Backlund has amassed 25 points in only 16 games, which is good for a fourth place tie in league scoring despite having played nearly ten fewer games than most of his competitors. We’re sufficiently impressed with his development this season to count him among our favorite sleepers once again.
Patrik Berglund – Sticking with the Allsvenskan League, Mikael Backlund’s VIK Vasteras teammate and St. Louis Blues forward Patrik Berglund has also registered 25 points on the campaign, vaulting the Swedish club to 4th place in the 14-team league. Coming off a disappointing 2011-12 season with the Blues that saw him score only 38 points despite dressing for all 82 games, Berglund has shown that his talent level hasn’t waned in any way and that he’s still capable of producing at a high level in one of the world’s best leagues. His role in St. Louis is something of an unknown at this point, but we like him as a late-round selection, especially in points-only leagues where his lack of penalty minutes are not a detriment to his value.
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