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Top 10 European Drafted Prospects

Linus Karlsson

Linus Karlsson

Par Olet

In this week’s Prospect Report, we look at affiliated prospects playing in Europe after a number of weeks of being very focused on the NHL Draft. If you are a draft junkie, you will want to check out the site now. We have now added 129 profiles of 2022 NHL Draft eligible players following our mid-season ranking and have now begun releasing our full scouting reports, including our grades in five different categories for skaters and six for goalies. This season you will see a lot more use of video in the reports (Thank you to InStat). You will get the same information as you are used to, but also a chance to see their skills in action.

This week Chapin Landvogt ranks the European prospects that are having the most promising season with results to show for it.

The McKeen’s team are scouting and writing about prospects all season long and provide in-depth reports on our website:

Top 10 European Draftees to date

List of Top 10 drafted Europeans full of surprises

When you think of European players drafted in recent years who aren’t currently or yet gracing NHL and AHL rosters, names such as Rodion Amirov, Yaraslav Aksarov, William Eklund, Noel Gunler, Ruslan Iskhakov, Vitali Kravtsov, Shakir Mukhamadullin, and Jesper Wallstedt are probably among the first to pop into your mind. Indeed, all of them have been playing for top league addresses in primarily Sweden and Russia, and several are currently key contributors to their respective clubs.

A good handful of other names around the continent have also gained notoriety for various reasons since being drafted and are indeed playing top league minutes in their various countries, including no less than Calle Clang, Artyom Galimov, Emil Heinemann, Roni Hirvonen, Albert Johansson, Filip Johansson, Marat Khusnutdinov, Ville Koivunen, Kirill Marchenko, Ivan Morozov, Theodor Niederbach, Juuso Parssinen, Patrik Puistola, William Wallinder, and Adam Wilsby. That’s plenty of names, but they’re just a few of the most prominent.

But when it comes to determining which European NHL properties are having the best, most promising seasons across Europe this winter, a whole handful are off the beaten prospect map. We guarantee that you’ll see a few names on the following list that’ll probably have you raising an eyebrow.

Let’s dive in!

10) Frederik Dichow - 20 - G - 2019 5th rounder - Montreal Canadiens

15-7, 4 SO, 2.29 GAA, .929 SV% in 23 Allsvenskan games

There are a handful of prospect goalies across the continent having decent success, some even in higher leagues than the Allsvenskan, but the 6’5” Dichow has come out of nowhere to put on often dominant performances for a team not expected to do much this season. It’s on the heels of some technical refinement in his game and the numbers speak for themselves. They’re so promising that he also represented Denmark at the Olympics and put up a 1.03 GAA and .969 SV% in his one outing.

9) Simon Edvinsson - 19 - D - 2021 1st rounder - Detroit Red Wings

1-12-13, 18 PMs, +4 in 34 SHL games

The 6’5” defenseman is behind a lot of other drafted blueliners around Europe when it comes purely to the offensive statline. But when you factor in his age and the pressure any youngster will have on the blueline of arguably the continent’s most expectation-laden club west of the KHL, then what he’s doing for Frolunda and the maturity he’s shown are off the charts. His abilities in all three zones are beyond his years and particularly his breakouts under pressure are gaining headway towards perfection. He’s more than on track to being a vital part of Detroit’s blueline in the near future.

8) Pontus Holmberg - 22 - C/LW - 2018 6th rounder - Toronto Maple Loafs

10-19-29, 38 PMs, -2 in 37 SHL games

Holmberg has basically picked up where he left off last season, when he was named the SHL’s playoff MVP after going 7-7-14 in 16 games, ultimately winning a championship with the Växjö Lakers. His offensive role has increased vis-a-vis his role during the regular season last year and that despite the challenges Växjö has faced as the reigning champ. Emphasizing his progress, he was named to Sweden’s Olympic team (two assists in six games) and has already signed his ELC with Toronto.

7) Emil Andrae - 20 - D - 2020 2nd rounder - Philadelphia Flyers

9-23-32, 18 PMs, +20 in 36 Allsvenskan games

Andrae is playing for HV71 of the Allsvenskan, but much like San Jose’s Jonathan Dahlen, who willed his Timra team to promotion last winter, Andrae is on a mission to help his childhood club make its way back into the nation’s bel étage. He’s playing a key role as one of the team’s top two defenders and 4th leading scorer, often having been a dominating presence in all three zones.

6) Dmitri Rashevsky - RW - 2021 5th rounder - Winnipeg Jets

19-16-35, 5 PMs, +14 in 48 KHL games

Rashevsky was a KHL sensation over the first few months of the season. A double overager when drafted, he exploded onto the scene clipping at a PPG pace for the first 20 games of the campaign. Things have slowed down a bit for the 21-year-old in his first KHL season, but there’s no denying how impressive the youngster has been, particularly in a goal-scoring capacity. He’ll need to add some serious weight along the way, but he has the frame for it.

5) Topi Niemelä - 19 - D - 2020 3rd rounder - Toronto Maple Leafs

9-21-30, 16 PMs, +8 in 43 Liiga games

If this article were being published in December, Niemelä would likely be at the top of the list. The slightly built righty-shot defender spent much of the first 20 games dominating Liiga play offensively from the blueline. Things have calmed down a good bit on the production front in recent weeks, but his overall body of work and the improvement in comparison to last season must have Toronto brass extremely excited.

4) Arseni Gritsyuk - 20 - LW - 2020 5th rounder - New Jersey Devils

16-12-28, 8 PMs, +9 in 39 KHL games

The slightly undersized winger is having himself quite a breakout season. A hustler who has put some often sick skills on display, he’s third on his team in scoring ahead of established talents such as Nail Yakupov and Peter Cehlarik, to name a few. Now an Olympic silver medalist, Gritsyuk was one of the big surprises to play for Russia but contributed handsomely with four points and a +4 rating in six games.

3) Elmer Söderblom - 20 - LW - 2019 6th rounder - Detroit Red Wings

18-9-27, 8 PMs, -5 in 42 SHL games

The absolute hulking 6’8”, 240 lbs. Söderblom has become a first line player as part of a very evenly spread out Frolunda attack. Although the stats are nice, but not off the charts, it’s his overall development into a power forward with slick mitts that simply must have Detroit licking its chops. His creativity, ability to carry the puck, and the ability to use his body to shield it have continued to improve in leaps and bounds this season. Hard to imagine just how good this kid will be if and when everything pans out.

2) Linus Karlsson - 22 - C - 2018 3rd rounder - Vancouver Canucks

19-15-34, 16 PMs, +5 in 42 SHL games

Raise your hand if you have any idea who Karlsson is? You may find out soon. A somewhat typical afterthought prospect in the (forced) trade that brought Dahlen to San Jose, Linus has absolutely exploded on the scene this season, showing a vast toolbox of offensive capabilities. He’s been a mainstay on the power play, where his shot has proven to be hard and accurate. The confidence he’s playing with is undeniable. After three solid seasons of maturing in the Allsvenskan, this is his first SHL season - and he’s killing it!

1) Aatu Räty - 19 - C - 2021 2nd rounder - New York Islanders

12-21-33, 26 PMs, +23 in 38 Liiga games

This ranking is both well-earned and due to circumstance. Räty’s season-long fall in the 2021 pre-draft rankings is well documented and looked warranted in light of another very slow start to the season with Kärpat, but he’s done nothing but explode since being loaned out to Jukurit, posting 32 points and a +24 rating in 32 games with his new club, which itself has steadily climbed up the standings since his arrival. Räty was also fantastic for Finland in U20 events throughout the summer and fall. Moreover, all that talent and moxie that long had him thought to be a likely top 10 pick in 2021 has been on full display in his many fantastic performances this season. Räty was ultimately taken late in the second round and has clearly been a man on a mission to prove all naysayers wrong. Truth be told, few prospect bins out there could have used his arrival more than that of the Islanders, who haven’t had a full seven picks since 2018.

Honorable mention:

Axel Bergkvist (ARI), Joel Blomqvist (PIT), Filip Cheeriest (BUF), Ivan Fedotov (PHI), Lukas Jasek (ARZ), Pyotr Kochetkov (CAR), YEgor Korshkov (TOR), Filip Larsson (DET), Olle Lycksell (PHI), Jakub Malek (NJD), Liam Dower Nilsson (DET), Vyachelsav Peksa (TOR), Aapeli Räsänen (EDM), Vili Saarijärvi (DET), Tim Söderlund (CHI), Joren van Pottelberghe (DET), and Dmitri Voronkov (CBJ)