Blackhawks European prospects 2008-09 review

By Brad Gardner

Marko Anttila, RW – Ilves Tampere (SM-liiga)
Drafted 9th round, 260th overall, 2004

The 24-year-old Anttila recently completed his fifth season with Ilves of the SM-liiga, Finland‘s top professional league. At 6’7 and 200 pounds, Anttila is an intimidating presence on the ice. In 53 games this season, he scored eight goals and 14 assists to go along with 69 PIMs. His 22 points ranked him sixth on the team in scoring. Ilves squeaked into the playoffs, where they were ousted by Pelicans in the opening round. Anttila has yet to try his hand in North America, so the ninth-rounder is likely willing to remain in his home country.

Jonathan Carlsson, D – Brynas IF (Elitserien)
Drafted 6th round, 162nd overall, 2008

One of five defenseman drafted by the Blackhawks in the 2008 draft, Carlsson has already been signed to a contract. At 20 years old, the Swedish defenseman is a little older than the other players in the Blackhawks’ 2008 class. He is expected to play in North America next season, most likely with the AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs. The 6’1, 192-pound blueliner played his first complete season in the Swedish Elite League this season, with one assist and 78 PIMs in 55 games. Carlsson’s Brynas squad was swept in the first round of the playoffs. He has also been a member of the Swedish junior teams for much of his career, including the silver medal team from the 2008 World Junior Championships. Carlsson is seen as a solid blueliner, capable in both zones, with strong vision and hockey sense.

Karel Hromas, LW – Sparta Praha (Czech Extraliga)

Drafted 4th round, 123rd overall, 2004

A 6’2, 189-pound winger, Hromas is in his third full season with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga. After just one goal and one assist in the last two seasons combined, the 23-year-old has seen a relative explosion in points. In 52 games this season, Hromas has two goals and four assists to go along with a career-high 64 PIMs. Hromas also has experience on other stages, including several tournaments with the Czech Republic‘s junior teams and two years with the Everett Silvertips in the WHL. Though he flashed some offense in the WHL with 29 goals and 51 points in 117 games over the two seasons, Hromas has been consistently used in a checking role. Having spent the last three seasons in his homeland, Hromas may be satisfied with his current situation.

Tony Lagerstrom, C – Mora IK (Allsvenskan)
Drafted 3rd round, 76th overall, 2006

A mainstay in the Swedish junior program, Lagerstrom was a teammate of Carlsson during Sweden‘s silver-medal run at the 2008 World Junior Championships. The 20-year-old center spent his last season with Mora in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s farm-level league. He enjoyed his most successful season at that level, with 12 goals and 18 assists in 45 games. His 30 points were good for sixth on the team. Intangibles are the first things that come to mind when thinking about the Swedish center as his leadership abilities are well-documented. His responsible play also makes him valuable in special teams situations. More success for the 6’1 189-pounder at the farm level should lead to ice time in the Swedish Elite League and, perhaps, to a shot on North American ice.

Igor Makarov, RW – SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Drafted 2nd round, 33rd overall, 2006

Easily the most-anticipated prospect on this list, the 6’1, 195-pound Russian winger spent another season with SKA in the KHL. Though the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Makarov himself finished the season strong and came away with one of his most productive campaigns to date. In 42 games, he posted nine goals and eight assists for the veteran-laden SKA team. His 17 points, a career high over his three-year tenure with SKA, ranked seventh on the team. The 21-year-old will also join Russia‘s national team for a pair of exhibition matches in April, opening the door for possible appearances with the national team in the future. A skilled, versatile winger, Makarov turned some heads at training camp last year and should be looking to build on that success next year.

Jakub Sindel, C – Pelicans (SM-liiga)

Drafted 2nd round, 54th overall, 2004

Sindel began the year in the Czech Extraliga, where he has spent much of his career, but joined the Pelicans squad in Finland’s top professional league. The 6’0 172-pounder improved his production after the move, garnering seven goals and eight assists in 23 games to finish the season with Pelicans. Though the team won their first-round series, they were eliminated in the second round of the SM-liiga playoffs. Sindel is another prospect with some experience in North America, having spent the 2004-05 season with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. He has generally been able to produce, whether in the Czech Republic, Finland, or Canadian junior leagues, but his future in North America is not clear.