As one-year league owners find other things to do as they anxiously wait for the NHL season to start, keeper leaguers are still (mostly) holding drafts and following their players. More than 300 players who would be in the NHL right now have found temporary jobs elsewhere, with the American League leading the way. But the Kontinental, Czech, Finnish, Swedish, German and Swiss Leagues are well-represented. Let’s check in on how they are doing.
HC Pardubice of the Czech League boasts three locked out NHLers. As of Oct. 16, Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky has seven points in eight games, Boston’s David Krejci has four in four. But the numbers that concern me belong to Jakub Kindl. The young Detroit rearguard has progressed far slower than poolies would have liked and has given little reason for optimism. Now back with his former team in his homeland, he has just one point in eight contests – and is a minus-6. I understand that we’re not to read too much into things, but poolies are crazy that way. Besides, what else can we read too much into these days?
Over in the Swedish second league, the Allsvenskan, Matt Read has quickly established himself as the most talented forward on Sodertalje, posting four points in two contests. New York’s Carl Hagelin is his teammate and has two points in one game. I like seeing young players entering their sophomore campaign flourishing. It goes a long way to avoiding the sophomore slump when this lockout finally ends.
So on that note, let’s take a look at Nashville’s Craig Smith. Seven points in four games for KalPa in Finland certainly helps the ol’ confidence. Even more impressive is the fact he’s the only locked out player on this team. In fact, scanning the roster, I don’t see anyone he could possibly know from the past through his playing career. So he’s on a team full of strangers. That has to be good for character, doesn’t it?
John Tavares was convinced by Islanders teammate Mark Streit to join him in the Swiss League (Bern). Tavares has five points in three games so far, while Streit has six in seven.
One player who needs his confidence back more than anyone is Chicago’s Michael Frolik. He had 11 minutes of power play time last year. Yeah, that guy. Going off on a tangent here, but why on earth would you give a power play specialist just 10 seconds of PP time per game? He’s not there for his checking skills. Take note, Joel Quenneville. Anyway, Frolik has seven points in six games for KLH Chomutov of the Czech league.
Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty had a promising year last season. But then the Hurricanes upgraded their forwards, placing his top-six spot at serious risk. I still think he’ll flirt with 20 goals in the season ahead (if teams play 82 games). It certainly helps that he is currently lining up with Tomas Plekanec (15 points in nine games) and Jaromir Jagr (12 points in nine games) for HC Kladno of the Czech league. Tlusty has 11 points in nine contests. Their power play unit also boasts Marek Zidlicky and Tomas Kaberle.
I’m also keeping tabs on Islanders returnee Jesse Joensuu. He played in Finland last season and then the Isles lured him back after he found his offensive game. A big, hard-hitting power forward, Joensuu is also showing good enough hands to have a future in the top six. So far, for Assat of Finland’s SM-liiga, he has 11 points in nine games, including six goals.
Hang in there poolies. I still think there’ll be NHL hockey in December. In the meantime, I have a complete listing of all locked-out hockey players playing in the AHL or in Europe, complete with links to their current stats, right here.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.