Earlier this season I wrote a post on what’s reasonable to expect from our NHLers over in Europe. Certainly we shouldn’t expect them to lead every league in scoring, but at the same time, you don’t expect them to, y’know, look worse than they do in the NHL.

I was doing a little stat-mining this morning to catch up on how guys were doing, and a few names caught my eye. Here are the five players who are under-performing (compared to my expectations), and the five who are meeting, if not exceeding how we thought they might fare.

Bottom 5

Evander Kane

Evander Kane has been having his share of problems since heading over to the KHL, the biggest of which is represented above by his 0.09 points-per-game average. This is a guy who almost scored 50 times in a season as a junior, and popped 30 in at the NHL level in 2011-12 with the Jets.  At one point, his coach implied he’s out of shape, but I would’ve assumed he could’ve done eff-all the entire summer and have a better line than that.

Nate Thompson

He’s not technically in Europe, I know, shut up. You know what this is.

The expectations on NHLers is that, when you go to a lesser league, you should do better (logic!). That applies to grinders too, as evidenced by other stat lines like that of Paul Bissonnette (he just went over to the British League, and has three goals and two assists in his first three games) and Dale Weiss (who went to the Netherlands and has 15 points in a mere six games). These “lesser leagues” allow the grinders a chance to play a more offensive role, and work on rounding out their games.

When guys drop levels significantly, you expect far better (more logic!).

Nate Thompson signed in the ECHL and has played ten games.

Still hasn’t scored. Not good. Hell I scored in my second ECHL game (then took 20 off)!

Artem Anisimov

Anisimov isn’t doing terribly, but as a 6’4″ 24 year old with three NHL seasons under his belt (who is expected to provide some offense), you kinda hoped you’d see him light things up this season. You remember his celebration that caused the brawl against Tampa Bay (as seen on 24/7) – he’s can snipe, as he’s shown 46 times over his first few seasons.

So far in the KHL…

One goal? Not exactly lighting my hair on fire in excitement if I’m the Blue Jackets.

Ondrej Pavelec

Seven goaltenders who were expected to play in the NHL this season have gone overseas and played over ten games. One is a player who, at one point in his career, looked like he was blossoming into one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. Shall we see how Pavelec is doing in the Czech League so far?

Be afraid, Jets fans. Be very afraid.

And last but not least…

Joe Thornton

The optics of Joe Thornton’s play in the Swiss League can be improved by hitting “PPG,” as I’ve done here. He’s only played 17 games, after all. But frankly, we expect more from Joe Thornton than to be the 35th best offensive player in the Swiss League so far. Especially when you check out how the other NHLers are performing there in the bottom half of this post.

Top 5

Jaromir Jagr

What you see below is the Top 10 scorers of all “NHL players” (I think it’s guys who played in the NHL last year, or have a contract for next one, from EliteProspects.com) who suited up for teams in Europe. Old man Jagr tops the list, pouring in over a point and a half a game for the team he owns, HC Kladno.

Tip of the cap, good sir.

 Nail Yakupov

A pretty funny media spat took place on Twitter yesterday when Damien Cox of the Toronto Star commented on Yakupov saying “That’s all there is?” after watching him play in a few games of the Super Series, and David Staples wrote up a little thing on what a ridiculous a comment that is.

Below is the top-10 of all scorers in the KHL (not just NHLers) by points-per-game:

10 goals in 13 games for the kid – that’s all there is? Slightly better than Anisimov’s totals.

Tyler Seguin.

We’re talking Seguin and not Damien Brunner, who’s leading the Swiss League in points, because he’s not nearly as well-known outside of “Red Wings prospect,” and I had high expectations for Seguin (in the NHL, that is, let alone the Swiss League) this year.

Seguin hasn’t disappointed. Shall we check out points-per-game?



Solid. Other observations here: this isn’t just a list of NHLers over there (must like the Russian list above), this is literally the league’s Top-10 in PPG, so…nice performance from the NHLers. Second, I’ve played and gone drankin’ with Mickflikier, and I can’t believe he’s gone from the ECHL to having Kane and Seguin on his team. Nice upgrade. And last…Patrick Kaaaannneee!!1!

Claude Giroux

Giroux is playing in the German Elite League, which is pretty darn good. Giroux was in my “Seguin” files, for people I expected crazy-good things from this season in the NHL. Hell, he’s in the thick of his offensive prime, more or less (as I’ve said before, it comes at a lower age than people think).

So off to the DEL top-10 in PPG:

19 points in eight games. Eff the NHL for not existing this year. We’re only missing Claude Giroux at his finest. Hey look, a Jamie Benn sighting!

Ilya Kovalchuk

Don’t look now, but a couple of our NHL stars are creeping up the list of point leaders in the K. Radulov is leading the league still, but if you flip it to PPG…

Kovalchuk, Malkin, Datsyuk at five.

North American coaches have desperately tried to make Kovalchuk more aware of defensive hockey, so part of me suspects he may have been afforded a little more freedom back in Russia to wheel and deal. Either way, he’s tearing up the KHL, and Malkin is right on his heels.

Comments (22)

  1. Actually, if I were the New York Rangers, I might be thinking, “Nash is better anyway.” We can leave the hair burning to the Blue Jackets. If they have any left.

  2. gotta give a shout out for Jason Demers from San Jose, playing for Kärpät in Finland. Kid has been a huge presence on the blueline for the team. Arguably the best lockout signing in Finland right now.

  3. You forgot Tarasenko if you have Yakupov on the list. After 14 games, also has 10 goals along with 10 assists. Neither have played in the NHL yet. Also wondering why he is not on the PPG list when he has more points than Datsyuk in less games?

    • I’m not sure about that…Elite Prospects must have some sort of qualification for who’s included and who’s not. But certainly, had I seen that, I would have included him. Using the old “eye test,” he’s been the most impressive player in most of the highlight packages I’ve seen.

      • Didn’t really care if he was one of the top 5 performers. Just confused about the list and why he was not listed. Thought I had imagined how well he had been doing this year.

  4. The German Elite League is not pretty good. t’s basically like junior for Giroux and Briere.

    • The DEL is the most “North American” of all the European leagues, both in player composition and in playing style, so it’s not as if Giroux and Briere are pirouetting their way to the top of the leader board there.

      The depth of native talent is comparatively thin, but the number of ex-NHL’ers former and NHL prospects, and North American coaches make for a pretty competitive (and physical) environment.

      • I just came back from an Eisbären game, and as a season ticket holder here in Berlin who grew up watching hockey in the US, it’s pretty far from North American hockey. It’s not a complete bottom feeder league, but it’s not just a step below the NHL either.

        One thing I will say though is everybody has stepped it up a notch since Briere and Giroux arrived. Briere especially, with his high energy, has had a positive impact on both sides of the dot.


  6. Has Scott Gomez scored?

  7. As a Flyers fan, I have to wonder how Bryzgalov missed being on the worst list… the guy has been so bad that CSKA won’t even risk dressing him as a backup most nights! Sure, Stana has been doing his best Dominator impression, but to not be able to beat out Proskuryakov for the right to ride the pine? Nonsense!

  8. And apparently, Evander Kane no longer plays for Dinamo Minsk.

  9. Holy, Bergeron. 8 goals and 8 assists in 16 games.

  10. I have to disagree with a statistical evaluation of Joe Thornton. If a stat category existed for missed shots following a Joe Thornton pass, then I might be in agreement. The fact is, he rarely scores any goals, and if his linemates are missing all their shots, then what good is he?

  11. Biz Nasty came in at number 6 on the top performers, right? RIGHT?!

  12. Love seeing Yanick Lehoux’s name in the DEL league leaders (he’s actually 3rd in points right now, 1st for assists). I’ve been a huge fan of his ever since his card came out of a junior pack, back around 2000, always felt he got the short end of the stick when it came to an NHL opportunity, but it is what it is.

    Here’s what I find interesting though. He has 17 assists according to the DEL website, but who’s scoring the goals off those assists? Mike Glumac has 9 goals, Frank Mauer 6, while Matthias Plachta and Markus Kink have 5 each. Next highest on the team in assists? Marcel Goc with 9.
    Point is, no one player is scoring all the goals, and no other player is really setting them up. It’s almost like Lehoux is setting up everybody – the German league’s Adam Oates.

  13. Where the….how…Hockey? Good lord, I’m lost again……..

  14. You should check on Demers via interview from Finland would love to here what he says about the league

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