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Top Ten European Players Coming to the NHL

Each year a few players cross the pond to play in the NHL. Some have an impact such as Carl Soderberg and Jakub Silfverberg and are fantasy relevant; others like Roman Cervenka are not.

It can be tempting in the later rounds of a draft to take a gamble on such a player as the risk/reward is well worth it. Not to mention will look like a genius if he pans out.

In order to help you identify some of the better options and get a ranking here is my top ten list for the 2014 NHL season.

1. Jori Lehtera, Centre - St. Louis

Lehtera was drafted in 2008 but since has been playing in the KHL. There are several attractive factors regarding Lehtera. He scored 44 points in 48 games last season. He has signed a lucrative two year one way contract. In the 2011-2012 season he played on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and they could be reunited in St. Louis. With the departure of Vladimir Sobotka there is an open roster spot and Coach Ken Hitchcock is bullish on him meaning he should see plenty of opportunity. No risk he does not make the team, only question is will he be a top six, or bottom six player.

Projection: 40 points

2. Leo Komarov, LW/RW – Toronto

Komarov returns to the NHL after a one year hiatus in the KHL. He is an underrated offensive player as he produced 34 points in 52 games last season.  Komarov was an impact player in his year with the Leafs and has tremendous value in fantasy leagues that score hits and PIMs categories as well. Considering Toronto committed almost $3 million per season for the four years is a good indication they see him as much more that a fourth line agitator.

Projection: 25 points

3. Petri Kontiola, Centre – Toronto

Another returning player to the NHL as Kontiola played 12 games for Chicago in 2007-2008 and produced five assists. His competition at centre will be Nazem Kadri and Peter Holland for a scoring role, tough but he has the skills to be taken seriously.

Projection: 30 points

4. Simon Hjalmarsson, RW Columbus

Originally drafted by St. Louis, Hjalmarsson signed with Columbus after scoring over a point per game in the SHL last season. He will compete with Corey Tropp, Nick Foligno, and Matt Calvert for a top nine position. He has scoring potential, but at 5’11” and 161 pounds he is not a lock to make the team and needs to produce plenty of offense.

Projection: 25 points

5. Iiro Pakarinen, RW – Edmonton

The Oilers are stacked on the right wing, but Pakarinen is young and has the size and combativeness the Oilers like. He had an impressive season in Finland and scored three goals in 10 World Championship games to earn his ELC with the Oilers. He may not have an impact this year, but would be well worth a pick in a keeper league.

Projection: 15 points

6. Michael Keranen, C/RW – Minnesota

Keranen tied for the Liiga scoring lead and is loaded with offensive ability. His skating is NHL calibre but needs to bulk up his6' 1" 176 pound frame. If he does not impress early, he won’t make the team so keep an eye on him and be ready to cut bait and replace him with a waiver pick. He is a boom or bust player.

Projection: 15 points

7. Peter Mueller, RW – St. Louis

Mueller has already played 297 career NHL games and 160 career points. He had memorable seasons scoring 54 points in 81 games with Phoenix in 07/08, and 20 points in 15 games with Colorado in 09/10. His most recent NHL season was with Florida in 12/13 where he only scored 17 points in 43 games. He has a well know concussion history that raises a huge red flag but he has good size and skill. Still only 26 years old he could have a major comeback, if he can stay healthy and crack a roster spot on the stacked Blues. The Blues are looking for scoring punch and this reclamation project could pay dividends for them and your fantasy team.

Projection:  15 points

8. Tomas Nosek, LW – Detroit

Nosek signed as an undrafted free agent recently and the 22 year old Czech had a breakout season with Pardubice scoring 44 points in 52 games.  While still developing, his 6’2” and 180 pound frame project well into the NHL. He is a versatile player who is responsible defensively and also possesses good playmaking abilities. Keep an eye on his training camp and preseason progress to determine if he has immediate value, or long term keeper value. He is a great sleeper pick.


Projection:  15 points


9. Jiri Sekac, C/LW – Montreal

His true fantasy value projects in keeper leagues. Sekac is only 22 and signed as a free agent with the Habs out of the KHL where he scored 28 points in 47 games. His size and skill project well in the NHL but he will likely see some development time in the AHL before carving out a NHL spot.

Projection: 5 points (in a limited number of games)

10. Joakim Lindstrom, LW – St. Louis

Lindstrom is the third Blues player to make this list, that’s one strike against him. He is already 30 and is on his third attempt to crack an NHL roster with a career record of 33 points in 97 games. That’s strike two.  But he is coming off a career year in SHL where he scored 63 points in 55 games. If he does not make a big offensive impact his fantasy value evaporates as it would be his third and probably final strike. He is a long shot.

Projection: 15 points

Honorable mention:

Kasperi Kapanen (PIT), David Pasternak (BOS) and William Nylander (TOR) all drafted in 2014 out of Europe and all have a chance to crack their NHL rosters this season. At the very least, they will have an audition and all have tremendous keeper value.