Six Panther prospects played out the 2008-09 season in Europe — two forwards, two defensemen, and two goaltenders.
Acquired: 3rd Round, 71st Overall, 2007
Dadonov showcased his ability at the World Junior Championships for Russia in December and January. And with the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk, Dadonov scored 11 goals and added four assists in 40 games this season. Though he has scored fewer points this year than last (20 in 43 games), he scored more goals this time.
Expected perhaps to have a bigger season based on his surprisingly successful 2007-08 campaign, Dadonov simply played on a more balanced team this season, and thus received a little less playing time. Still, the rise in his goal total in 2008-09 can be attributed to an improvement in his finishing ability. The 20-year-old plays with more poise. Dadonov is a finesse player, and though he is not a big player or physical, it wouldn’t necessarily be proper to refer to him as a soft player.
Dadonov’s contract with Chelyabinsk has expired. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the young forward receives a fair share of attention as a free agent. However, it also allows the opportunity for Dadonov to cross over to North America, should he choose to do so.
Acquired: 6th Round, 171st Overall, 2003
Stasyuk has spent the last seven years, going back to 2002-03, with Metallurg Novokuznetsk. And over the years, his performances have been somewhat underwhelming. This season, through 44 games, Stasyuk scored three goals and nine assists.
Stasyuk has some size, good hands, and solid skating ability, but the overall package just isn’t there. For his size, standing 6’3, he is not quite physical enough, nor is it in his nature to be so. Stasyuk lacks some of the fundamental technique and requisite hockey sense to be a viable NHL option. The 2003 draft choice is certainly not getting any younger, and is a virtual certainty to never play stateside.
Acquired: 6th Round, 164th Overall, 2005
Derlyuk has had a respectable season, an improved season, this year for Balashikha MVD HC. But Derlyuk is not a player with great NHL hope, if any. As indicated by his three goals and eight assists in 54 games, he is primarily a defensive defenseman. He is not one who takes chances offensively, playing a simple and understated game instead. What will likely keep Derlyuk a safe distance from the Panthers and the NHL, will simply be an insufficiency of skill. Indeed, Derlyuk will never put up points on a significant basis. He is not physical enough with his play, and his skating ability is subpar. Derlyuk is a middle-of-the-road player, and as such shouldn’t be expected to threaten for a spot in Florida in the future.
Acquired: 4th Round, 105th Overall, 2003
Lojek made the move to his native Czech Republic at the end of the 2007-08 season. After falling out of favor in the Panthers organization, not meeting their expectations, he signed a contract with Trinec Ocelari HC. Lojek didn’t last very long with the team, however. He played nine games with the team before moving to Pardubice HC. From that point on, Lojek only dressed for another 12 games the remainder of the season. With neither club has Lojek been a standout player by any means, with only one assist all season. Lojek has continued to be a player who blends into his surroundings. For this reason among others, including his commitment to the Czech Extraliga, he will likely never return to North America.
Acquired: 2nd Round, 31st Overall, 2008
This season was to be Markstrom’s first as the official starting goaltender for his hometown SEL club Brynas. Markstrom also represented his home country, Sweden, in the WJCs, helping to lead them to a silver medal. Afterward however, his performance began to wane at the tail end of January. A handful of rocky starts, followed by a string of excellent starts from 20-year-old backup Anders Lindback, forced Brynas to ride the hot hand.
Lindback backstopped Brynas through a mid-to-late February winning streak with his play. Markstrom played the season’s final game, but would primarily serve as Lindback’s backup in playoffs. He was in
goal for the fourth and final game of Brynas’ opening-round series against the top-seeded Farjestad BK, but it was too little too late for Brynas, no matter who dressed between the pipes. Farjestad won the
game by a score of 2-1, completing the sweep and eliminating Markstrom and Brynas.
Markstrom finished the regular season with a total of 35 games played. He posted a .917 save percentage, and a 2.38 goals-against average, fourth best in the league among goalies appearing in as many games. He recorded three shutouts. By no means is Markstrom out as the No. 1, but he will have healthy competition going forward.
Acquired: 7th Round, 202nd Overall, 2007
Gayduchenko made only a brief stop off with his KHL club, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, due to injuries in front of him on the depth chart. He posted a .942 save percentage and 1.62 goals-against average in three games, and was named rookie of the week. Opportunities have been hard to come by for Gayduchenko. With a head coach who generally tends to rely on veteran players, two proven goaltenders in front of him, the 20-year-old has been relegated to the third string.
Gayduchenko possesses qualities that are not often seen in a goaltender his age. Naturally, he covers the net well, standing 6’5 and weighing 222 pounds. But for his size, Gayduchenko has good reflexes and athleticism. Ideally, Gayduchenko will earn a spot as a backup next season. Otherwise, to progress as an NHL prospect, crossing over to North America may be the best way to attain the ice time he needs.