Free agency has hit European hockey leagues and for those that haven’t well, they will very shortly. Much like signing NCAA free agents, or undrafted players as free agents, it’s another way NHL teams can look to add players to their pool at both the NHL and AHL level.
The Bruins did just that with Jesper Froden during the last offseason, signing him to a one-year contract out of Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Hockey League that carried a cap hit of $852,500. Froden spent most of the season with the Providence Bruins but got a cup of coffee with Boston scoring his first career NHL goal in one of the seven games he appeared in.
It doesn’t always pay off, but it doesn’t hurt to look, especially since most of the available players would come at an Entry Level Contract price just like Froden did. But there are transfer fees that come with these moves.
So, I’ll take a look at a few players available beginning with the SHL because Head European Scout PJ Axelsson appears to have his finger on the pulse with all things Swedish.
*Note: Clicking on the players name will take you to their Elite Prospects page. You can do some research from there.
Bjork is a 6’3”, 203-pound right shot defenceman who last season played with Brynas IF. The 24-year-old played in 52 games and scored 3 goals along with 12 helpers.
Lennstrom is a 27-year-old, 6’1” – 190 pound left shot defenceman who left the KHL after 40 games where he had 9 goals and 18 assists to join Farjestad BK. In 11 games he scored 3 goalsand 5 assists. He would add 4 goals and 10 assists in 19 playoff games.
Hrivik is a 30-year-old, 6’1, 196 pound forward who can play bot center and left wing and a native of Slovakia. He began the season in the KHL scoring 9 goals and adding 14 assists in 44 games before jumping to the SHL where he had 3 goals and 3 assists in 11 games.
Shumakov is a 6-foot, 198-pound left wing at 29 years of age who played for Avtomobilist. In 38 games he scored 10 goals and added15 assists.
Khairullin is a 6-foot, 185-pound center/right wing with Neftekkhimik and just turned 26 years of age. In 46 games he had 17 goals and 15 helpers.
The native of Kazakhstan stands 5’9” and 165-pounds which will surely scare most of you away. The 28-year-old played for Barys and in 47 games scored 18 goals and added 26 assists from left wing.
The 27-year-old native of Latvia stands 5’11” and 181-pounds and is a right shot who plays the left wing. In 29 games for Dinamo, he had 13 goals and 7 assists. He left Russia mid-season to join MoDo of HockeyAllsvenskan in Sweden where he had 2 goals and 3 helpers in 7 games.
The 5’11 – 194-pound Kuzmenko is 26 years of age and played for SKA St. Petersburg. In 45 games, he scored 20 goals and added 33 assists. He added 7 and 7 in 16 playoff games. Kuzmenko is a left wing.
A native of Finland, Ojamaki stands 5’11” and 185-pounds and plays the right wing. He appeared in 48 games for Vityaz and scored 39 goals and 14 assists.
The 5’7”, 175-pound Palmu was drafted by the Canucks but they no longer hold his rights. The 24-year-old can play both wings. He was Captain in Jukurit last season where he scored 26 goals and added 33 assists in 59 games. He would add 2-3-5 totals in 7 playoff games.
Ventela is a 6’1”, 187-pound left shot defenceman from Finland who played in Slovakia last season for HK 32. The 27-year-old played in 48 games and scored 8 goals and 22 assists.
The 23-year-old left wing (right shot) stands 6’3” and comes in at 205-pounds. Last season he played for HK Nitra and in 50 games scored 41 goals and added 23 assists. He added 13-11-24 totals in 19 playoff games.
The players listed are not going to solve the Bruins issues for a second line center, or a first line center in the event Patrice Bergeron retires, but for depth just as Froden was and in some cases, might actually be an improvement over what the Bruins already have.
I could have gone into long breakdowns on each player that literally would have taken hours. But if you think you might be interested in one of these players, there is plenty of information available.
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