Hedman Dominating KHLFriday, December 21, 2012
It’s time to take a few more stops on our whirlwind tour of Europe to catch up on the latest goings-on across the pond.
Evgeny Dadonov – This third-round selection of the Florida Panthers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft enjoyed a solid NHL campaign two seasons ago as he notched 17 points in 36 games following a mid-season call-up, but he regressed last year and spent the majority of the season riding buses with AHL teammates in Charlotte and San Antonio. Now he’s the property of the Carolina Hurricanes, despite the fact that he has signed on to play in the KHL all season. It remains to be seen when he’ll return to North America, but if Dadonov’s performance in Russia is any indication, he won’t spend much time in the minors. Playing for Donbass, the right winger has notched 29 points in 35 games and is starting to live up to the expectations he had previously failed to meet.
Victor Hedman – After being the second overall pick of the Lightning in 2009, Hedman entered the NHL with massive expectations and although his points-per-game rate has improved in each of his three NHL seasons, he has yet to surpass five goals or 26 points. While some may write him off as a defense-first player lacking in skill, the immense Swedish blueliner has found his offensive game in Russia, registering 20 points in just 24 games for Barys Astana. The talented rearguard celebrated just his 22nd birthday this week and given the typical learning curve for NHL defensemen, there’s plenty of improvement on the way for him.
Cory Schneider – While it’s reasonable to think most NHL players are currently frustrated by the lack of progress in negotiations between the NHLPA and the league, I have to believe Cory Schneider is more irked by the circumstances than most. Fresh off a new three-year deal that promises to pay him a total of $12 million, Schneider seemed to be on the verge of his first opportunity as a full-time NHL starter (provided Roberto Luongo eventually made his way onto another NHL roster), but that plan has been put on hold. While he bides his time and awaits his moment in the NHL spotlight, Schneider is playing for Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss National League, where he has recorded a 2.60 GAA and a .936 save percentage. It might be a small sample size, but anyone scared off by the fact that Schneider has never played a full season as a starting netminder needs to reevaluate their position – he’s as legit as they come.
Tuukka Rask – Another young netminder who has been waiting in the wings for a chance at a full-time role in the NHL is the Bruins’ Rask, who is currently tearing up the Czech Extraliga playing for Skoda Plzen. Having posted a 6-2 record with a sparkling 1.85 GAA and an equally-impressive .936 save percentage, the 25-year-old is undoubtedly NHL number one material and he’ll get a chance to show it if the North American season ever begins, thanks to Tim Thomas’s decision not to play out the final year of his contract.
Tomas Plekanec and Jaromir Jagr – The dynamic duo of Jagr and Plekanec have combined forces with Kladno of the Extraliga and thanks to their contributions, the club stands in fifth place among the 14 teams in the league. Jagr, in particular, has impressed during his European stint by racking up 41 points in 26 games after looking like he had finally begun to slow down with the Flyers last year. Interestingly, the future Hall-of-Famer first suited up with Kladno nearly 25 years ago, as a bright-eyed 17-year-old in 1988. While Jagr was getting his first taste of profession hockey, a 6-year-old Plekanec was working his way up the ranks of Czech minor hockey, likely with posters of Jagr affixed to his bedroom walls. Now his teammate, the Canadiens forward has equalled his point total this season and the two find themselves in a tie for second in league scoring. Get the Rotoworld NHL Draft Guide and dominate your hockey pool!