Kirill Kaprizov

A KHL Update With Aivis Kalniņš of HockeyBuzz

photo of Kirill Kaprizov, photo credit – Андрей Чудаев

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Aivis Kalniņš of HockeyBuzz. Kalniņš is a Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) columnist/insider and is a great follow for insight on players and prospects across the pond.

In my interview with Kalniņš, we touched on many topics including North American players adjusting to life in the KHL, Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild prospect), Vasili Podkolzin (Vancouver Canucks prospect), Ilya Sorokin (New York Islanders prospect and more. 

Let’s check out what Kalniņš had to say.

The Interview

Josh: Many hockey fans in North America don’t really comprehend why the KHL is relatively low-scoring compared to the NHL. Can you talk about the style of play in the KHL and why the league is considered a low scoring one when you compare it to the NHL?

Aivis: It’s mainly because of the rink size. Puck gets overcarried a lot. Players try to make fancy plays. It’s just a whole different game over here which unfortunately affects goal scoring. However, the league is set to slowly switch to North American sized rinks as IIHF is working on doing the same across all European pro leagues. 

Josh: Ilya Sorokin is coming off of a great season with CSKA Moskva. What are the attributes of his game that you like the most and what do you believe that he still needs to work on?

Aivis: Ilya is a super athletic goalie and he knows how to use that. His reflexes are at an elite level, his movements are very steady, especially when moving side-to-side in the crease. He could work a little more on puck tracking. He’s often caught making those desperation saves just because he sometimes loses the puck. 

Josh: Nikita Gusev had an outstanding season with SKA St. Petersburg. He led the KHL in points. Do you believe that his offensive production will translate well to the NHL?

Aivis: I do believe that his production will translate well to the NHL. He’s one of not many players from KHL that can actually make the jump, adjust and make an impact. Gusev, Dadonov and Panarin have all been THE players that from the start to the end of their paths to the NHL have had me convinced that they are going to be big name players even in North America. You can look at Panarin – everyone loves him on and off the ice. Dadonov is also loved and is performing exceptionally well in a market like Florida so he’s a little underrated. Gusev has the same future ahead of him. 

Josh: Kirill Kaprizov of CSKA Moskva is looking like the best drafted prospect in Russia. The Minnesota Wild are patiently waiting for him to come to Minnesota. If you had to compare Kaprizov to an NHLer (current or former), which player would you compare him to and why?

Aivis: I don’t think Im going to say that he reminds me of player X or Y. He’s a goal scorer, he’s fast, he can play along the boards. He’s a very well rounded player. Can play in both ends of the ice. He hasn’t even played a single game in the NHL but I already read him as an 80+ point guy in the league and that says a lot about him. 

Josh: Miro Aaltonen had a great campaign with Vityaz Podolsk. In your opinion, does Miro look like he improved since his days with the Toronto Marlies or is he relatively the same?

Aivis: He has improved a little but I don’t think he will be able to improve to an extent which could lead him to the NHL just because his team choice was very poor. Yes, he is a part of the leadership group, he is playing big minutes, important situations – but it’s not working for him. More or less – he is the same player he was back then. ”Being a leader” in my book doesn’t count as a thing you should be developing. 

Josh: What are your overall thoughts on Vasili Podkolzin? 

Aivis: Canucks make the right choice. I had spoken to a few scouts and people in both KHL and NHL and heard that he was probably a top 3 prospect in the draft if it wasn’t for his KHL contract with SKA. NHL teams are scared because of the ”Russian” factor. Podkolzin is very similar to Alex Radulov but much faster. Very bright future for this kid. 

Josh: Who are some KHLers that NHL teams might try to bring to North America next year? Are there a few KHLers that fans in North America should pay special attention to?

Aivis: It’s hard to say at this point. The players that are worth bringing to North America usually pop up during the season. They tend to change on a monthly basis – so this really isn’t a question for the off-season. There is literally no buzz at this time of the year as the whole focus for everyone is either the current NHL free agency period or for the KHL it’s time to start packing and slowly getting to the training camps that mostly start at some point in July. 

Josh: We’ve seen a lot of Americans and Canadians come play for KHL teams. Does it seem that it’s relatively easy for these players to come to the KHL and get used to living across the world? Do the players begin to learn the local languages (i.e. Russian, Finnish, Latvian)?

Aivis: It depends on where you sign. I’ve heard so many stories from so many players. The European based teams (Riga, Helsinki, Minsk) are usually more pleasant for the so-called import players. There is not as much of a culture shock. You’re not thrown into bear fights or whatever. It’s never easy to move to the other side of the world. Often players don’t see their families for months because of how hard it is to travel. Some players don’t even want to bring their families along. Traveling in KHL from city to city is a nightmare – you can never get used to that. There are cities in Russia that players absolutely hate to even be in but sometimes they offer the best money. I think all the players try to learn local languages to an extent, especially all the simple phrases and things like ”Hello”, ”Goodbye”, ”How are you”.  There are some that love Europe and money so much that they change their hockey passports and move to these countries and even represent them in the IIHF competitions. 

Thank You Aivis

Thank you Aivis for taking the time to speak with me. Look forward to interviewing you again in the future.

featured image photo credit – Андрей Чудаев, Wikipedia Commons (License Info)


NHL Entry Draft: Top Russian Draft Eligible Prospects

Draft day is upon us and with that comes the final look on the European Leagues top prospects. This time it will be a look into the best of the prospects from Russia, with love.

The wait is over. Its draft day in Vancouver and its time for the prospects of the world to find out what the reward for all the long grueling hours of training will become. This includes a massive draft class from Russia. Just like the Swedes it was a very difficult task to narrow the pool down to four prospects. The fact that goalie prospect Ilya Konovalov had a .930 save procentage in 43 games in the KHL and didn’t make the list should be all the prove needed to showcase that.

Vasili Podkolzin – SKA-Neva St. Petersburg – Winger

Probably the most controversial prospects of  the first round, Podkolzin seems to have people mixed the most. Some are calling him a bust even before he has even been picked, while some see him as the best outside Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. At the start of May he looked destined to go third overall, but lately he has dropped in the ranking and now looks to go as low as 15th in the draft.

He played in SKA St Petersburgs different teams, with most of his time spend in the MHL and VHL. Here he had an okay year with 13 points in 26 games. For someone who is yet to turn 18, that’s far from bad. He even managed to get a taste of the KHL, although with limited minutes. While Podkolzin hasn’t fully light up the lamp at the club level, he has impressed mightily on the international scene. He was the captain of the under 18 team, where he almost led them to a gold medal, but Russia fell at the last hurdle and had to settle for silver. He also got a bronze medal at his first crack at the juniors. At 17 years of age even being a part of the Russian Junior team, speaks of his talents.

Podkolzins strengths are many and with blinding speed and hands, he can make some amazing plays at high speed he is lethal. Combine that with a great shot and vision and you got a near perfect goal scorer. On top of that he is a very nice size, and a lot of similarities can be made to Alexander Ovechkin in the way he plays the game. His compete level is fantastic and like he showed with the under 18 national team, he is a fine leader. The reason he has dropped seems to be the Russian factor, where he is bound to a contract with SKA St Petersburg for the next 2 seasons. Some teams will struggle to wait that long to see him in action. However, as we seen with Artemi Panarin, the team that can wait, might get a fantastic star at the end of it all.

Pavel Dorofeyev – Metallurg Magnitogorsk – Winger

A beast in the Russian junior leagues, where Pavel Dorofeyev showed that he was far too good. He played 19 games and had 31 points. That’s numbers that more than warranted the call up to the KHL that he got, although it was with more limited ice time at Matallurg. Here he has had 2 points, which isn’t great, but he has played 23 games. That’s not easy to do in Europe’s strongest league at the age of 18. A league that has players who could more than hang in the NHL, and while he wasn’t scoring for fun, he stayed on the team and even getting to play 4 playoff games.

A strong offensive player, who is very similar to Podkolzin in a lot of ways, only a year older. A nice shot, fine speed and a super vision, makes him an exciting player to watch. He possesses good work rates on the defensive areas and is having more than enough talents to produce at a great level in the NHL. But like Podkolzin the thing that hurts his draft stock is his contract situation. Once again, it’s very likely that he won’t come to North America directly, and it will always be a risk that he signs a contract in Russia, that locks him for a little while in the KHL. Some teams wont risk that with their first rounder and therefor he could drop, and if so he could be a great steal to keep an eye on.

Yegor Spiridonov – Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk – Center

The center of Pavel Dorofeyev in the MHL, but unlike his line mate, he stayed the entire year in the MHL, despite dominating it. 41 points in 43 games tells the story of a great season for Spiridonov, who also was a key part of the Russian team that made it all the way to the finals, in the under 18 world championship. Here he had six points in the seven games.

The strengths of Spiridonov is his two way ability. Similar to a player like Mikko Koivu, his defensive awareness and discipline when it comes to the defensive duties is second to no. If a shot needs to be blocked he will do it, and with great physicality his a able to win a lot of the battles at the boards. He is a coach’s best friend in a lot of ways. However, as good as the defensive abilities of Spiridonov is, the offense is lacking behind. Although he keeps the puck well as he enters the zone, his skating his not great. Its something that needs a lot of work from the team that picks him. But with his work rates and pride as he plays, im confident that he is more than capable of being a fine NHL player, that might even be able in the mid rounds.

Pyotr Kochetkov – SKA-Neva St. Petersburg – Goalie

An absolute brick wall at the world juniors where he was deservingly so named the best goalie of the tournmant, has risen his stock a lot. Follow that up with some fine domestic performances and the 19-year-old, might finally get drafted. While most of the season was in VHL he was putting up fantastic numbers for St Petersburgs VHL team. 18 games and a .930 and .955 in the playoff is worth taking note of.

Twice he has been passed but I can’t see the same happen in Vancouver as he is a well sized goalie at 6’3 who is able to cover the net well and with his great agility and quickness he is absolutely one of the better goalies in the draft. Where he needs to work on his game is his aggressiveness that can see him overcommit and leave too much net open on a rebound. However, that is something that corrected with the right training and I could see him become a starter in the future.

Puck 77 NHL Draft Scouting Reports

We’ve compiled all of the scouting reports done by the various members of the Puck77 team for the NHL Draft here in one easy location so you can jump right to the player you want!

Our Top-12

1. 🇺🇸 Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Jack Hughes by Tony Ferrari

2. 🇫🇮 Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga): Deep Dive Scouting Report of Kaapo Kakko by Tony Ferrari

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3. 🇺🇸 Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Turcotte by Tony Ferrari

4. 🇨🇦 Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Bowen Byram by Tony Ferrari

5. 🇺🇸 Trevor Zegras, C/LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Trevor Zegras by Tony Ferrari

6. 🇨🇦 Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Dylan Cozens by Tony Ferrari

7. 🇺🇸 Cole Caufield, LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Cole Caufield by Tony Ferrari

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8. 🇨🇦 Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Kirby Dach by Tony Ferrari

9. 🇨🇦 Alex Newhook, C, Vancouver Grizzlies (BCHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Newhook by Tony Ferrari

10. 🇨🇦 Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Peyton Krebs by Tony Ferrari

11. 🇺🇸 Matthew Boldy, RW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Matthew Boldy by Tony Ferrari

12. 🇷🇺 Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Vasili Podkolzin by Tony Ferrari

Other Intriguing Prospects

2019 NHL Draft: What makes Philip Tomasino such an intriguing prospect? by Spencer Loane

2019 NHL Draft Deep Dive: Arthur Kaliyev by Spencer Teixeira

NHL Draft Profile: Nolan Foote by Spencer Teixeira

Come back for more profiles as they are updated and added! Thanks for stopping by!

Clearing the Puck! Your Weekly Look at the World of Hockey

Welcome back to Clearing the Puck for the week of May 24th to 31st! This week we take a look at the Stanley Cup Finals, a Washington Captials legend hangs up the skates and how the Hurricanes season will impact the community for years to come!

Incase this is your first time, here is the rundown. What we’re going to be doing at Puck77 is putting out a weekly recap. There are going to be observations, summaries and some cool things that we noticed around the web from the NHL and the world of hockey from the last week. There will be 10 points every Saturday morning. Included will be links to articles from our website as well as many others to help fill you in on some of the best hockey and NHL content from around the web. Without further ado, let’s dive into the week!

“The Jerks” Make a Lasting Impact

There is no doubt that the Carolina Hurricanes had a season that will be remembered by hockey fans for years. Whether its the Eastern Conference Finals run or the “Storm Surge”, the Hurricanes were a blast to watch this season. How long will the impact last? Will the ‘Canes fever persist? How much has the organization benefited from the outstanding run? How much has the community grown into becoming a “hockey market”? Sara Civian of the Athletic did an excellent job taking a look both behind the curtain and into the community for the tangible benefits of the Hurricanes season. Will the Storm Warning continue into next season? Check it out below.  

Tweet courtesy of @SaraCivian

Capitals Legend Erat Calls it Quits

Martin Erat is finally hanging up the skates. He’s been playing his last three years in Czech Extraliga for HC Kometa Brno. While Erat was a really good NHL player, what he’s most known for is the most one-sided trade in NHL history. Then Washington Capitals GM George McPhee traded blue-chip prospect Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. This was the day where Erat became a Washington Capitals legend. All jokes aside, his time with the Capitals was a bit of a disaster. So much so that Forsberg has six goals against the Capitals in his career whereas Erat and Latta scored six total in their 175 games with Washington. Forsberg is a legitimate top-six winger and has two 30-goal seasons and five with at least 25. For a better look at the entire Caps career of Erat, check out our friends over at Russian Machine Never Breaks below!  

Tweet courtesy of @RussianMachine

Quebec goes Back-to-Back!

The QMJHL has back-to-back Memorial Cup Champions. After last season when Acadie-Bathurst Titan captured the CHL’s title, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies took the title back to the beautiful province of Quebec. The Huskies were the best team in the entire CHL during the regular season and they did what the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t, they won the whole damn thing. Led by Noah Dobson and Joel Teasdale, the Huskies fought through adversity in the tournament losing to the Guelph Storm and then having to go through them again in the semi-finals before facing the host Halifax Mooseheads again. Tyler Kuehl at Puck77 did an outstanding job covering the Memorial Cup and you can read his piece on the Huskies first championship here.

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NWHL Sends NHL a Message

The landscape of women’s hockey is at a tipping point. This season, or lack there of, could be the reason that women are paid fairly for their all-world skill, at least earning enough to make a living. The NWHL is the only currently active professional league in North America and they released a statement this week that seems to have put the ball in the NHL’s court (or rink?)

Tweet courtesy of @NWHL

The full statement from the NWHL can be found in the tweet above. The interesting part of the statement came in the quote below where the NWHL seems to insinuate that they are hoping the NHL decides to step up, 

If any individuals or groups come forward and declare they are ready to start and invest in a new league where women can receive a substantial full-time salary and medical insurance, we would be ecstatic to have a conversation about a partnership or passing the torch. 


Zaitsev asks out of Toronto

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev has requested a trade for personal reasons. We don’t know exactly what those are but its probably safe to assume that the criticism of his play and the pressure that comes with playing in Toronto may have understandably gotten to Nikita or his family. There have been some absolutely vicious comments made on twitter and social media in general that could have contributed to the request. While this could help Toronto out in the long-run with their salary cap situation, its unfortunate that its come to a head because of the anger of people who claim to be fans. While no one is suggesting that fans can’t be critical, attacking a player on their personal social media or their families social media is disgusting and unacceptable. Even if this has nothing to do with Zaitsev asking out of Toronto, its a good time to remind everyone that the players are people. You wouldn’t say an athletes face, so don’t hide behind your monitor or phone. Be kinder to people, we all need more kindness in the world. 

As for the hockey side of things, this could be a complicated deal and its been expressed that Toronto is unlikely to retain much, if at all. Zaitsev has term and a decent sized dollar  figure attached to him so any team acquiring him will likely need to be looking for exactly the type of defensive, penalty killing game that Zaitsev brings. Toronto isn’t in position to take back a contract of significance so where we go from here will be interesting. I encourage you to read the thread of tweets below from the king of hockey insiders, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, where he goes through the entire situation. 

Tweet courtesy of @TSNBobMcKenszie

Oilers tab Tippett to be their Bench Boss

The Edmonton Oilers finally hired their new head coach to hopefully lead them back into championship contention. Dave Tippet, former coach of the Arizona Coyotes, takes the mantle of man on the bench for the Connor McDavid led team. The hiring seems like another step in the right direction for the Oilers. Since Ken Holland became the GM, they have started to clear out the “old boys” group of the ’80’s Oilers and they’ve begun to bring in off-ice talent, not the least of which was Tippett. Firing most of their coaching staff, only retaining Glen Gulutzan, the Oilers are beginning to take the necessary steps back to respectability after years of being the laughing stock of the NHL for years despite having the best player in the world.  

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Puck77 Final Draft Rankings!

Jack Hughes vs. Kaapo Kakko! Who’s the top ranked player on the board? Who is on the rise? Who dropped? The team here collaborated and put together NHL Draft rankings together. Submitting our lists, we combined all the rankings, averaged the numbers out and figured out exactly how the draft is going to go! No? We didn’t do that? Okay, well we at least did our homework and worked our way from 1-31 for you to consume! You can check that out here!

Tweet courtesy of @thePuck77

Finland wins Gold!

0 NHL goals. The Finnish national team featured 0 NHL goals. The Fins were led by draft eligible Kaapo Kakko and a scrappy group of Liiga players all the way to the gold medal. Defeating Canada in the finals, the Finnish team was a great story in the IIHF World Hockey Championship. Timely goals from their captain Marko Anttila, outstanding performances in net by Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kevin Lankinen and capping of the tournament the same way that they started, beating Canada when most people expected them to win. 

Video courtesy of the IIHF Youtube account

The tournament did an excellent job putting the Finnish program among the top programs in the world. To be able to take players from Liiga and win a tournament filled with NHL players was outstanding fro the Fins. The job done by the management team, the coaching staff and the players can’t be talked about enough. Team Finland are the World Champions!

NHL Players cheering on the Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are in the NBA Finals! I know, not hockey. There were NHL players at the games though, including the former Oilers duo of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and a group of current Toronto Maple Leafs. So congratulations to the Toronto Raptors on winning game one of the NBA finals over the heavily favored Golden State Warriors and here is some NHL players at the game to justify talking about the Raptors in a hockey blog!

Tweet courtesy of @TSN_sports

Tweet courtesy of @MapleLeafs

A trip to the john predicts the OT Game Winner

When the third period of game two of the Stanley Cup finals came to an end, a couple of the St. Louis Blues decided to hit the washroom which is likely not a rare situation. At this point, one of the biggest bathroom rules were broken. Carl Gunnarsson decided to talk to his head coach Craig Berube at the urinal. Gross… What he said to him though was the interesting part. He told his bench boss that he just needed “one more chance”. He rang the puck off the post in the third and he felt like he missed his chance. Could he have known what was to come next? Could he have known that he would score his first playoff goal since he was a 13-year-old playing minor hockey? The veteran Swede put the game away, tying the series at a game a piece. Carl Gunnarsson could be a Stanley Cup hero if the Blues pull off the series win. 

Tweet courtesy of @StLouisBlues

Thank you as always for joining me this week to clear the puck and find the news for the week! Tune in next week when we finally have some more Stanley Cup games and we could even have a champion! Until next week, have fun with the draft coverage coming up, enjoy the hockey in the Cup final and GO RAPTORS!

Stats and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, Elite Prospects, the IIHF, the NHL and the CHL

NHL: Top 2020 European Undrafted Free Agency

Undrafted Free Agency has provided teams with great talent in the past. Next year is no exception. As it is still a year away it is hard to tell who will be available, what other players will breakout and what players will take a step back.

Teemu Turunen, LW, HIFK

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Teemu Turunen spent this past season with HPK of Liiga, the top league in Finland. He is still only 23 years old! In just his third season with the club he broke out and had a great season. He had 20 goals (2nd on HPK), 34 assists (2nd on HPK) and 54 points (1st on HPK) in 57 games. The most dominant part of Turunen’s game is his hand-eye coordination. But his small stature, 5’10”, and his below average skating ability have others concerned about how good he could be at the NHL level. Three days ago, Turunen, signed a new one year contract with the Liiga club, HIFK.

Konstantin Okulov, C/RW, CSKA Moskva

Konstantin Okulov excelled with CSKA Moskva of the KHL, the top league in Russia, this year. He was one of the top players under 25 years old this past year. He has been a good role player in the past in the KHL, but this season he turned it up a notch. He scored 20 goals (2nd on CSKA), assisted on 11 (7th on CSKA) and 31 assists (4th on CSKA) in 48 games. He also got a lot of experience in the KHL playoffs. He ultimately broke out here and posted 7 goals and 7 assists in 19 playoff games. This performance by Okulov, helped CSKA Moskva to a Gagarin Cup. It is no surprise that, Okulov’s, greatest asset is his elite shot. His defensive abilities are a little lack luster but he is expected to be an offensive presence on the ice. He has one year left on his deal with CSKA Moskva.

Jakob Lilja, LW, Djugårdens IF

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At 25 years of age, Jakob Lilja is considered to be a late bloomer. He played great in his first year with his new club, Djugårdens IF, in the SHL. This year paired with SHL rookie, Emil Bemstrom, he had a great season. Lilja, was able to score 12 goals (3rd on Djugårdens IF), assisted on 25 more (1st on Djugårdens IF) and led all skaters on Djugårdens IF with 37 points. He did this in 52 games. Jakob Lilja is known for his playmaking abilities and his great acceleration. He does lack high end skill, but is still a good player. He is currently under contract for one more year.

Stefan Loibl, RW/C, Straubing Tigers

Stefan Loibl, is part of the movement of great young German players. Players like Leon Draisaitl, Dominik Kahun, Tim Stützle and Moritz Seider are among the most known. He is still 22 years old and has been a force for the Tigers. In just his second year with the big club he scored 21 goals (2nd on Straubing) and 17 assists (3rd on Straubing) for 38 points (3rd on Straubing) in 52 games. From his stats it’s easy to tell that his forte is his goal scoring. He also has good size at 6’2″ and he has a quick first step with excellent acceleration. His defensive game does need some work and he will need time to develop. His contract ends at the end of next season.

Nikolai Demidov, LHD, Sibir Novosibirsk

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Nikolai Demidov is perhaps one of the most unknown but also one of the most underrated undrafted free agents. He is also just 23 years old. He played a big role with Sibir Novosibirsk, playing on the power play as well as 5-on-5, he averaged 17:48 on ice. Demidov, scored 10 goals (5th on Sibir), 15 assists (1st on Sibir) and 25 points (3rd on Sibir), he lead all defensemen in all of these categories on his team. He also recorded 8 power play goals. He did this in 47 games. Nikolai Demidov, is an offensive defenseman who has a good shot. His main weakness would be his size, 6’0″ and his defensive play. Demidov’s contract ends next year and could look to come to the NHL.

Jarkko Parikka, LHD, Ilves

Jarkko Parikka, is the youngest player so far on this list at only 21 years of age! Like, Demidov, he’s very unknown. This was his second full year with Ilves in Liiga. Not to mention he also played four games with Finland’s National Team and got an assist. Parikka notched 5 goals (9th on Ilves) and 14 assists (6th on Ilves) for 19 points (9th on Ilves) in 59 games. Jarkko Parikka plays a puck-moving role, he’s quick on his feet and is able to make good passes. He does have some concerns with strength and size, 6’0″ and 187 pounds. I cannot state this enough, but he is only 21 years old and has time to develop. He has shown a lot of poise for his age. Like everyone else on this list, his contract expires next year.

Emil Larmi, G, HPK

The first goaltender on this list, Emil Larmi, is just 22 years old. Goalies usually take the longest to develop, and Larmi is an example. Three years ago he was struggling to find a spot with the Lahti Pelicans U20 team, but was able to land a contract with HPK and has truly flourished. This year he played 36 games and recorded a 1.94 goals against average and a .909 save percentage which was good enough for 9th in Liiga. He’s an aggressive, but very poised goaltender. Larmi, sometimes makes questionable plays with the puck, but this is a minor detail. He is also a smaller goaltender at 6’0″ and 183 pounds. Emil Larmi showed how great he could be in the Liiga playoffs recording a 1.72 goals against average, .932 save percentage and led HPK to a Liiga championship game (18 games played). Larmi, is rumored to go to Kärpät for a year, ironically the team HPK beat in the finals, and then will be a free agent at the end of the 19/20 season.

Anton Krasotkin, G, Admiral Vladivostok

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One of the top young unsigned and undrafted Russian goaltenders is Anton Krasotkin. He is still only 21 years old and already playing the KHL. This was his second full season in the KHL. Last year, Krasotkin, struggled but this year he looked phenomenal. He posted a 2.40 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Not to mention he played for one of the worst teams in the KHL, Admiral Vladivostok ranked 21st out of 25 teams. He’s very unknown in terms of strengths and weaknesses, but he is 6’0″ and 179 pounds. Anton Krasotkin, is currently signed for one more year.


These are just some of the possible undrafted european free agents that may come over to North America after next season. Many other players that aren’t on the NHL radar could have a breakout season and be targets for NHL teams. This isn’t even taking the NCAA free agent crop into account. Expect to see more NCAA players to sign next season as there are always players who either leave school early to sign professional contracts or the player has graduated and they are ready to take the next step in their hockey careers.