2013 NHL Draft: Taking a look at the European Players

Modo Hockey

The 2013 NHL Draft will likely have a strong contingent of European players drafted, who are they and would the Stars be interested?

While North American players make up the majority of those drafted,to see more on where players have been drafted check out this awesome database put together by The Stanley Cup Of Chowder, European players are still prominent. However the attention that the majority of these players get, outside of the top talent produced, tends to be lower than there North American counterparts.

The Stars in the past have tended to mine the European talent pools, for example in the 2012 NHL Draft the majority of their selections were born outside of North America. The last time this happened was 2003 though they drafted equal numbers in both 2011 and 2004. Its therefore safe to assume, considering this tendency and the history of good scouting from Dallas Stars scouts based in Europe, that the Dallas Stars will likely look there again for talent.

In order to bring more attention to those less well known European prospects in the draft, outside of the most well known of Aleksander Barkov, Valeri Nichushkin, Elias Lindholm, Rasmus Ristolainen and Andre Burakovsky, I thought I'd do some brief scouting reports on those players that might otherwise be looked over or are generally unknown. This is only a few of many European players that the Stars could be interested in come the draft.

Note: Due to those players going in the later rounds being more unknown there profiles tend to be a little longer than those who are likely to go in the first or second round. They are also in no particular order.

Robert Hagg, RD, 6"2, 203lbs, Modo, Elitserien

Hagg is your typical smooth skating, cerebral, two way defenseman. He has an excellent shot and skating to match. He has all the tools to be a very good defenseman, there are questions over whether mental lapses suggest he doesn't have the attitude to reach that ceiling. He'll go late in the first round but could be an excellent pick, if not a risky one.

Pavel Buchnevich, RW, 6"1, 170lbs, Severstal Cherepovets, KHL

Buchnevich is one of those players who will likely fall mostly due to the 'Russian Factor'. He's an good playmaker and has an excellent shot. He isn't physically well developed however and needs to get stronger. His defensive game needs a lot of work and some scouts feel like his attitude also needs to mature. Likely to go in the second and third rounds.

Artturi Lehkonen, RW, 5"11, 176lbs, KalPa, SM-Liiga

Lehkonen is a top offensive threat and despite him being smaller than many of his opponents he is willing to go into the corners and fight for the puck. His defensive game is okay though it needs work but its his goalscoring ability that will get him places. If he adds on some more core strength he could be an effective player at the NHL level, especially as a goalscorer. He will likely go in the second round but its equally likely he will be taken in the late first or drop to the third round.

Marko Dano, C/RW, 5"11, 185lbs, HC Slovan Bratislava, KHL

Marko Dano is a versatile two way forward from Slovakia who has performed well in a bottom six role in the KHL. He is very creative and good on his skates. Despite being slightly smaller than liked from prospects he is also willing to throw heavy body checks and plays with a great deal of intensity. He does however take undisciplined penalties and loses his cool. Performed very well at the WJC. Likely drafted somewhere between the middle of the second and third rounds.

Peter Cehlarik, LW, 6"2, 200lbs, Lulea, Elitserien

This young Slovak is one of the dark horses of this draft. He's a technically skilled two way player with some good offensive upside. His main weakness is his skating which needs to improve if he has any hope of making and being successful in the North American professional leagues. He only played 8 games in the Elitserien, he spent the rest of the time with their J20 team, but he was just under a point per game pace having 7 points in 8 games. He also broke the record for the youngest player to score a goal for Lulea. He'll likely get drafted before the end of the third round.

Gustav Possler, LW, 6"0, 180lbs, Modo U20, SuperElit

Possler is a speedy sniper who managed over a point per game in the SuperElit in Sweden. He's a natural goalscorer rather than a talented playmaker. His defensive work isn't that developed and would need some work but his sniper ability gives him the potential to potentially produce in North America. He's a hard one to place in a round and could go anywhere from the late second round to the end of the fifth round.

Lucas Wallmark, C, 5"11, 165lbs, Karlskrona, Allsvenskan

Wallmark is one of those Swedish players that does everything well and has a well rounded game but is usually not noticed on the ice. He is a pretty good playmaker however and hasn't done too badly in the second division of the Swedish adult league. His defensive work isn't brilliant though he is a determined player in his own zone. He just lacks the size to be a really effective defensive player. Lucas Wallmark is another player that is hard to place and could go anywhere between the mid second round and fifth round.

Bogdan Yakimov, C, 6"5, 210lbs, Izhstal Izhevsk, VHL (Second Division of the Russian Adult League)

Yakimov is a big lumbering centre who despite his size isn't one that delivers hugely punishing hits. Instead he uses his body well to cycle the puck and to position himself to prevent onrushing forwards. There are two things that spring to mind when it comes to Yakimov, firstly his skating needs a lot of work but it can be refined. Secondly there is the inevitable 'Russian Factor', when it comes to Yakimov it appears he is frustrated at not being rewarded with a KHL spot, which he could probably play effectively, and this might be enough to lure him to North America. He has the tools but needs refining, where he will get drafted is a mystery but he could be drafted from the third round later. He is one to keep an eye out on though.

Carl Dahlstrom, LD, 6"4, 215lbs, Linkoping J20, SuperElit

Carl Dahlstrom is a classic stay at home defenseman with a big body and the skill to use it effectively, either taking the body or getting in passing and shooting lanes. His skating, like many of his size, needs a lot of work but this could be refined over time. Dahlstrom actually intrigues me a lot, not because of his size and defensive work, but he shows some excellent poise on the puck and the ability to get it out of the zone well. His shot is pretty good as well. His skill as a defensive defenseman is good but there is some room for offensive development there as well. It would be a project but one that could yield a defensively responsible defenseman who can help produce some points as well. He could sneak into the end of the second round if a team really likes him but I see him going somewhere between the third and sixth rounds.

Wilheim Westlund, LD, 5"11, 185lbs, Farjestad, Elitserien

Westlund has had a bit of a mixed season despite playing a lot of the season in the Elitserie. He only had a single goal in 26 games but I imagine he was playing with very limited ice time. His main strength is his good fast skating and he has a decent shot and pass on him. Defensively he can sometimes be completely aware of what is going on and intercept a pass while other times he completely misses the play. While he is still young, and playing in an adult league, this isn't completely unexpected. With some time and development, and perhaps a little growth in size, he could become a serviceable NHL defender. I see Westlund going in the third round or beyond.

Niklas Hansson, RD, 6"0, 172lbs, Rogle J20, SuperElit

Hansson has all the tools to become an effective offensive defenseman. He has a good, if not particularly quick off the mark, skating style but its his passing and shooting that are his biggest bonuses. He has a good shot and an accurate pass. He is particularly effective on the powerplay. His work in his own zone isn't great, mostly due to skating issues. But when it comes to offensive defensemen at his age its not an uncommon problem. Despite playing only 9 games in the Elitserie he did play for all of their relegation series and was heavily relied upon. He will play in the Elitserie next season and could take a step up then. He could go anyway from the second to the sixth rounds depending on if a team is particularly high on him.

Viktor Crus Rydberg, C, 6"0, 185lbs, Linkoping J20, SuperElit

Rydberg is a player who possess some excellent two way talent but is maddeningly inconsistent. He skates well, and has accurate and strong shots and passes. His defensive work is pretty good as well though he needs to develop his strength in order to improve his own defensive skills. However he is a pretty rounded talent overall and if he can resolve his consistency issues he could become a serviceable two way forward in North America. I would imagine that he could go anywhere from the third round onwards.

Anton Cederholm, RD, 6"2, 205lbs, Rogle J20, SuperElit

In a lot of ways Cederholm reminds me of Niklas Grossmann. Cederholm is a big defenseman who can skate well, can deliver punishing hits, when needed, and is excellent in his own zone. A typical stay at home defenseman. He's consistently played above his age group and will likely be playing in the Allsvenskan next season with Rogle. His offensive potential is limited to his ability to get the puck out of the zone to his forwards but he does this underrated skill pretty well. He will need a few years but he could provide a relible stay at home defender. I can see him sneaking into the late second round or possibly falling all the way to the fifth or sixth rounds. It all depends on whether a team really likes him or not.

Robin Norell, LD, 5"11, 192lbs, Djurgarden J20, SuperElit

A bit of a dark horse and unknown when it comes to Swedish prospects but he has some intriguing potential, he's ranked 70th by the International Scouting Services and 58th by the Central Scouting Services. He's a strong two way defensemen who is a good skater and keep his play simple and good. He makes good decisions and gets the puck out of his own zone very well. He's a bit of unknown compared to other Swedish prospects however. He basically could go anywhere between the third or seventh rounds depending on how throughly a team has scouted this interesting prospect.

Rushan Rafikov, LD, 6"1, 185lbs, Loko Yaroslavl, MHL

Rushan Rafikov is a nasty physical defensemen who brutalises onrushing forwards, though too often crossing the line into illegality when it comes to his plays. His offensive play is good enough to call him a two way defender but his offensive production is pretty limited. His shot isn't hugely threatening but he has a good passing skill and can get the puck out of his zone well. Where he goes is completely up in the air but I can see him being drafted from the fourth round onwards.

Viktor Arvidsson, LW, 5"9, 172lbs, Skelleftea, Elitserien

Viktor Arvidsson has been passed over in two previous NHL drafts due to concerns over whether he could produce at the adult level being only 5"9, 172lbs. He played nearly a full season in the Elitserien and had 12 points through 48 games. He is a good skater and has excellent hockey sense. He has some good offensive potential but his defensive positioning still needs some work. He's another one of these players where its basically impossible to predict where he be drafted. He could be drafted from potentially the late second round all the way to the end of the draft probably.

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