Karlsson Out of this World!Friday, January 04, 2013
It’s time to take a few more stops on our whirlwind tour of Europe to catch up on the latest goings-on.
Evgeni Malkin – At the risk of having this piece become “The Weekly Evgeni Malkin Update”, it’s impossible to ignore his recent performance in the KHL. In his past nine contests with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the Pittsburgh forward racked up an astounding 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) and has now amassed 59 for the season in 35 games to place him second in the league scoring race. Malkin’s 213 shots on goal are far away the highest such total in the KHL and his plus-19 rating has him in a tie for seventh in the league. In short, the reigning Hart Trophy winner is playing at an exceptional level.
Semyon Varlamov – Possibly the most impressive NHL goaltender playing internationally right now is Semyon Varlamov, who has been outstanding for Lokomotiv. In 15 games, the Avalanche netminder’s stats look like ones you might put up if you play a video on the “Easy” setting. His 8-3-3 record pales in comparison to his sparkling .950 save percentage and his miniscule 1.66 GAA. Although he suffered through a sub-par campaign with the Avalanche in 2011-12, we’re liking what we’re seeing from Colorado’s goalkeeper this year.
Raphael Diaz – While he could only muster 16 points in 59 games during his rookie season with the Canadiens last year, Diaz is proving that he has the talent to provide a much greater offensive contribution. Playing for the highest-scoring club in the Swiss National League, EV Zug, the Swiss-born rearguard has registered 29 points in 30 games suiting up alongside Henrik Zetterberg, Linus Omark and the dynamic Damien Brunner. It’s unlikely Diaz will find himself on Montreal’s first power-play unit when he returns to the NHL, but the Habs are now aware that he could fill in if necessary.
Matt Read – After making an unexpected splash in the NHL with 47 points as a Philadelphia rookie last season, Read is making a name for himself across the Atlantic by scoring in bunches for Sodertalje of the Swedish Allsvenskan League. In 20 games, the Bemidji State product has scored six goals and dished out 18 assists for an impressive 24 points and his contributions have helped Sodertalje climb to fourth in league standings. He doesn’t have a ton of upside at the NHL level and he’s also not a player who is likely to amass many minutes in the penalty box, but he remains a useful late-round selection in fantasy leagues.
Erik Karlsson – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Ottawa Senators blueliner, last seen demolishing his fellow NHL defensemen by registereing a whopping 78 points in 81 games, has been putting on quite the show with Jokerit in Finland. Despite having played fewer games than many other players in the league, Karlsson’s 34 points in 30 games place him fourth in league scoring with his club standing atop the league standings. To put his performance in perspective, the next closest blueliner is the Sharks’ Jason Demers, who has amassed 21 points with Karpat Oulu to place him in a tie for 21st in the scoring race. The standout offensive contributor has yet to decide whether he’ll return to Jokerit after leaving the club around the holidays, but his play thus far is a clear indication that he’s in no danger of having skills erode while he waits for the NHL to resume play.
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