Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Phil Davies on 09/11/10 at 11:36 AM ET
First off, I would like to thank Paul for the opportunity to blog for Kuklaskorner. This is a great hockey site with excellent bloggers and extremely knowledgeable and passionate hockey fans.
I’d also like to thank all of the members who welcomed me to the blog. Thanks everyone, it means a lot!
To answer the question about former Red Wings prospect; Igor Grigorenko, from KK Member; OlderThanChelios
Grigorenko put up 36 points in 55 games last year, which is decent by KHL standards, but yes, he has completely fallen off the radar as far as topflight prospects go. Injuries and lack of motivation seem to have got the best of him at this point. He may turn it around, but it will likely never be on this side of the pond.
I say 36 points in 55 games is decent, since there are often less shots on net in the KHL than in the NHL, since many Russian players still look for the perfect opening, rather than shoot it on the net and look for rebounds, as most North American players do. The larger ice surface and strong defensive zone coverage are also the reason for less shots in many of the games.
As mentioned, I will be providing coverage of the European leagues, players and a bit of its history as well. I will also write about international hockey tournaments, such as the World Championships and the World Juniors. Every year, these tournaments transfix European hockey fans, due to the high level of talent involved. Although, the Worlds have made great strides in terms of appreciation in North America the last decade or so, I still think it should garner greater fanfare.
In my last blog, I covered some European players who were who hoping to make a splash on this side of the ocean in the upcoming year. In this blog, I would like to talk about some ex-NHL players who should have an impact in various European leagues this year.
Evgeni Nabokov, Maxim Afinogenov, Denis Grebeshkov
KHL: SKA St. Petersburg
Talk about a free agent splash this year!
SKA proved that they are serious about achieving greater results in the post season, by signing an elite goalie in Nabokov, a rejuvenated Afinogenov (one of Russia’s best players at the 2010 Olympics and World Championships), and the underrated two-way d-man; Grebeshkov.
Many people seemed to lose faith in Nabokov as a big-game goalie after he was trounced by Canada at the Olympics, however he did play well in the playoffs, before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion; Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Finals.
Afinogenov had a comeback year with the Atlanta Thrashers, after a few injury riddled seasons in Buffalo and should push Alexander Radulov, Sergei Mozyakin, Danis Zaripov and Alexei Morozov for the KHL scoring title.
Grebeshkov is also coming off a season where he missed many games due to injury. However, 21 points in 51 games is not all that bad when the you consider that the majority of those games were with the last place Edmonton Oilers and that Grebeshkov wasn’t always out on the first powerplay unit.
Despite these additions, SKA lost their season opener 5-4 in overtime to Dinamo Riga. This was especially bitter for the homeside, since Riga upset them in the first round of the playoffs last year.
Swiss National League A: EV Zug
Metropolit was a dependable member of the Montreal Canadiens last year, acquiring 29 points in 69 games, while playing a strong two-way game, taking key faceoffs and even helping out on the power play from time to time. However, he is a free agent over the age of 35, which is almost like the kiss of death in the NHL, since most teams are unwilling to sign players over this age to more than a one year contract, since their salary would stay on the books, even if a long-term injury occurred.
Metropolit should thrive in Switzerland, as he is no stranger to the league, having scored 66 points in 44 games for HC Lugano in 2005-06 season.
KHL: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
Demitra had a tough season with the Vancouver Canucks last year as injuries limited him to only 28 games. However, like many European players, Demitra amps up his game when playing for the National Team and was selected to the Olympic All Star Team, due to leading the tournament in points, while leading the underdog Slovaks to a fourth place finish. Many European players from Demitra’s generation had never heard of the NHL, while growing up, due to the Cold War still being in effect, which explains their passion for the World Championships and National Team play. Despite the advance of age and injury, Demitra is still a strong two-way player and an exceptional leader, which should bode well for him in the KHL this year.
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About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com