Ducks European prospects 2009-10 review

By Kyle Kujawa

Anaheim has three goaltending prospects, two former AHL prospects, and one up and coming Finnish star playing in Europe this year.

Igor Bobkov, G — Steel Foxes (MHL)

6’4, 192 pounds
3rd round, 76th overall, 2009

Bobkov was the first of two players drafted straight out of Europe by Anaheim in 2009. Bobkov played in Russia last season and stuck around this season to play in the MHL, the new junior league under the KHL. However, he served as the team’s backup to a goaltender two years older, so playing time was not plentiful. He only got into seven games, posting a 3.32 GAA.

He established himself as one of the premier young Russian goaltenders with his performance at the World Junior Championships. Bobkov was a bright spot on what was a disappointing tournament for Russia. He posted a 2.45 GAA and a .930 save percentage. He’s a lock to start again for Russia next year in Buffalo, and he should see much more playing time in the MHL as well.

Sami Vatanen, D — JYP (SM-Liiga)

5’9, 159 pounds
4th round, 106th overall, 2009

Anaheim’s other European pick in 2009 has also immediately looked like a solid selection. Vatanen took the Finnish league by storm, putting up 30 points in 55 games, nearly twice the number of the second best defenseman. The fact that JYP finished first in the league and Vatanen was still playing nearly 20 minutes a night makes it even more impressive.

Vatanen is only 18, so a few more seasons in Finland is possible. However, Vatanen breaking the Finnish record for points by a rookie defenseman is getting him noticed and he is certainly in Anaheim’s plans going forward. Playing in the top men’s league right now is the best thing for him. With his size, he will likely need a longer preparation period.

Mattias Modig, G — Lulea (SEL)

6’1, 179 pounds
4th round, 121st overall, 2007

Modig’s season in Sweden is finally completed, ending much better than it began. The clear starter last season, Modig earned more of a split in playing time early in the season, essentially becoming the backup by midseason as his numbers were not quite to the level expected. However, Modig regained his starting position and appeared in most games down the stretch, bring his numbers to a 2.49 GAA and a .899 save percentage.

Recently, rumors have circulated about Anaheim getting Modig over the pond for next season. They will need to bring goaltenders into the system, having already shipped out Justin Pogge and with Joey MacDonald and Jean-Philippe Levasseur impending free agents. Modig could be serviceable in an AHL tandem with Marco Cousineau or Timo Pielmeier, neither of whom have ever started an AHL game, as Modig has had several years of professional experience in Sweden.

Petteri Wirtanen, C — HIFK (SM-Liiga)
6’0, 185 pounds
6th round, 172nd overall, 2006

After spending the last three seasons in the AHL, Wirtanen returned to Finland this season. Anaheim not having its own AHL affiliate could have factored into this, but there is a danger of out of sight out of mind. His 27 points in 56 games this season are solid, but not numbers that are going to make NHL teams seek out his services.

Wirtanen is known more for his strong two-way play, as a player who does a lot of things well but has no elite skills. His best season in the AHL was his last year there, when he registered 41 points in 78 games, good for third on the club.

Petri Kontiola, C — Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
5’11, 205 pounds
Acquired from Chicago

Like Wirtanen, Kontiola could have been the victim of Anaheim having no place to put AHL players, having loaned their younger prospects out to various AHL or ECHL teams. Kontiola’s offensive abilities are very apparent, as he racked up 62 points in 81 AHL games last season, split between Chicago’s affiliate in Rockford and Anaheim’s affiliate in Iowa. This year he had 21 points in 54 games for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL.

The difficulty for him is that he signed a two-year deal to play in Russia. Unless that deal includes an out clause, it appears this may have been the final season for the 25-year-old as a Duck prospect.

Sebastian Stefaniszin, G — Iserlohn Roosters (DEL)/Landshut Cannibals (2.Gbun)
6’0, 190 pounds
4th round, 98th overall, 2007

Stefaniszin has taken a step back this season. After appearing in 23 games last season with a .903 save percentage in what is known as a high-scoring league, Stefaniszin has again taken the role of backup in Iserlohn. He saw action in 14 DEL games this season, with a 4.06 GAA and a .882 save percentage. In late December, he was loaned out to the second-tier German league where he appeared in five games with a 1.97 GAA.

His future is uncertain though. As a 22-year-old prospect, he should be earning regular time in the DEL, or at least find a way to stay in the country’s top league. Stefaniszin remains a longshot.