Avalanche 2008-09 European prospect review

By John-Eric Iannicello

The Colorado Avalanche only had five prospects currently playing in Europe this season: one forward in Russia, and four in Sweden.  Norwegian defender Jonas Holos made the most progress out of all the European prospects this season. With the general manager position vacant after the firing of Francois Giguere, the future of some of these prospects is more clouded now than ever.

Russia

Denis Parshin, RW, 23 – CSKA Moscow [KHL]
Acquired:  3rd round, 72nd in 2004

Parshin is the lone Russian prospect in the Avalanche system.  Though his point totals may not reflect it, he’s a magician with the puck and lethal in the offensive zone.

In 48 games this season with CSKA Moscow, Parshin collected 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points.  His offensive numbers took a dip from last season’s career high of 33 points, but he also participated in eight fewer games.  He’s been a consistent producer over the last three seasons.

The one obvious flaw in Parshin’s game is his size.  At a generous 5’10 and approximately 165 lbs he doesn’t provide much else besides his offensive game.

Parshin does not currently have a contract with CSKA Moscow for next season and is slated to become a free agent.  With the lack of a transfer agreement in the NHL, it’s becoming notably more complicated to lure talented Russian players from their country.  It becomes increasingly difficult as the players get older and begin to earn higher-paying contracts. 

It would seem that the time is now (if ever) for the 23-year-old Parshin to make the transition to North America.  With the projected salary role-back in the KHL, and the lack of contract for next season there may be a slight chance he crosses the pond but it’s not likely.

Sweden


Johan Alcen, LW, 21 – Brynäs IF [SEL]

Acquired:  7th round, 195th overall in 2007

Alcen made decent strides last season, registering 10 points in 39 games.  His offensive game looked like it was starting to translate.  But this season, the 6’1 offensive left winger has had trouble adjusting to the demands of the SEL. 

In 50 games this season, he only managed to score once and add one assist.  He was also a team-worst -12 in the process.  To his credit, he didn’t see much ice time but for the offense he was able to produce as a teenager in Sweden, the transition has been disappointing. 

Alcen’s fortunes may change next season as he joins fellow Avalanche prospect Richard Demen-Willaume on Rögle BK.  Alcen recently signed a two-year deal with Rögle BK and hopefully will have the opportunity to garner more ice time.


Richard Demen-Willaume, D, 23 – Rögle BK [SEL]

Acquired:  5th Round, 154th overall in 2004

Demen-Willaume has had a rollercoaster year after making the jump this season to the SEL.  The fifth-round selection in 2004 only participated in 24 games this year due to a broken ankle on Sept. 27.

Even though he missed over half the season, Demen-Willaume returned in the New Year and was able to record some respectable point totals.  In the 24 games that he did play, Demen-Willaume notched five goals and seven assists for 12 points.

Demen-Willaume even saw some time at forward this year with Rögle.  At 6’3 and 220 lbs, the 23-year-old provides a nice combination of size and offensive skill that makes him an intriguing choice at forward. 

Demen-Willaume is under contract with Rögle for one more season.

Jonas Holos, D, 21 – Farjestads BK Karlstad [SEL]
Acquired:  6th Round, 170th overall in 2008

Arguably the most intriguing European prospect in the Avalanche system this season is 21-year-old Jonas Holos. 

A native of Sarpborg, Norway, Holos has made the transition to the SEL with ease after successful seasons in Norway and has been noted for his consistent progress throughout the year. 

An overage draft pick in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, Holos has seen his stock rise after an extremely successful season with league champions Farjestads.  In 55 games for the club, he tallied eight goals and eight assists for 16 points and a +7.  He was second on the team in scoring for defenders.

He also put up impressive playoff numbers with three goals, three assists and a +9 in 13 playoff games. 

Holos has a similar frame to that of Avalanche top prospect Kevin Shattenkirk.  He’s not overly big at 5’11, but has a solid build at approximately 200 lbs.  He’s a good two-way defender who doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses to his game; he keeps it simple and smart.  Size may be the only concern in terms of potential NHL transition but it shouldn’t deter him too much. 

Next season will be an important development year for Holos as he looks to build on his early success in the SEL.  He’s definitely a late season riser in the Avalanche system, and will be a player to keep an eye on in the coming years.

He will be participating in the 2009 World Championship for Norway this off-season.

Jens Hellgren, D, 20 – Borås [Allsvenskan]
Acquired:  6th round, 155th overall in 2007

The youngest of the Avalanche European prospects, the 20-year-old Jens Hellgren made the transition from the Swedish junior league to the second division men’s league this season.

As one of the youngest player on the team, Hellgren was given limited ice time but was still able to produce respectable numbers.  In 45 games this season, Hellgren recorded two goals, six assists and a -9.

Hellgren has desirable NHL size at 6’3, but needs to add strength to his 190lb frame.  The offensive defender is a long-term project with good upside if he can continue to round his game and work on his defensive and game-to-game consistency. 

His contract with Borås expires this summer and could see himself in the AHL next season if the Avalanche ink him to an entry-level deal this summer.  With the influx of prospective young defensive talent on Lake Erie next season, it may be a challenge to secure a spot full time if he make the trip across the pond.