Avalanche European prospects 2009-10 review

By John Canario

By selecting only North American players in the 2009 entry draft, the Avalanche have the same five prospects playing in Europe that they did last year. They have four prospects playing in Sweden and one in Russia.

Sweden


Johan Alcen, LW – Rögle Angelholm (SEL)

6’1, 189lbs
7th round, 195th overall, 2007

Alcen’s days of overwhelming offensive success in the Swedish junior leagues have not translated to the SEL. He had two goals and six assists for eight points in 47 games this season, as last-place Rögle Angelholm missed the playoffs. This marks the second straight season that Alcen has been unable to match his personal SEL-best 10-point output in the 2007-08 season. Alcen’s offensive minutes were often limited this season, as he saw most of his ice time in a penalty-kill or shutdown role. He will likely spend another few seasons playing professional hockey in Europe.

Alcen handles the puck well and has a quick release to go along with a smart hockey mind. He will need to develop a more powerful skating stride if he is ever going to re-establish his presence as an offensive player. While he has NHL size, he lacks physicality and is often hesitant to go into corners or play along the boards. At 22, he is still a ways away from the NHL.

Richard Demen-Willaume, LW/D – Rögle Angelholm (SEL)
6’3, 210lbs
5th Round, 154th overall, 2004

Demen-Willaume appeared to be making strides last season, putting together his most productive season on a point-per-game basis, with five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 24 games with Rögle Angelholm in 2008-09.

He has taken a step back this season. With no goals and just a single assist playing 12 games for Rögle Angelholm this season, he was sent to the Malmö Redhawks in the Allsvenskan. He did not fare much better there, contributing one goal and one assist in 13 games.

Demen-Willaume, 24, has good size and plays with some nastiness, with 115 minutes in penalties in 92 games over the past three seasons. He has played at both defense and forward over the past few years but seems to be settling in at the left wing position. He does, however, have a detailed history of injuries and though he did have a nine-game stint playing for the Arizona Sundogs of the CHL in 2006, he appears to be more comfortable playing in Sweden – at least for the time being. After a disappointing 2009-10 campaign, Demen-Willaume will need to put together a successful, injury-free season in Sweden to garner the attention of the Avalanche.

Jonas Holos, D – Farjestads BK Karlstad (SEL)

5’11, 196lbs
6th Round, 170th overall, 2008

Holos is a consistent, if unspectacular, defenseman with a well-rounded game. He found the net just once this season, a far cry from the eight goals he posted in 2008-09, but his 13 assists this year (51 games) marked a career high in the SEL. Holos gained significant experience at the Olympics this past February playing valuable minutes for Norway against many of the best players in the world. Suiting up for all of Norway’s four games against powerhouses that included Canada and the USA, Holos put up one assist and four penalty minutes.

Holos, 22, skates and passes the puck well, and his positional play in his own end is also sound. The Avalanche’s depth at the position and size could be his only deterrents on his path to the NHL. His contract with Farjestads expires at the end of this season, and Holos will probably attend Avalanche training camp this summer where he will be in tough contention for a roster spot.

Jens Hellgren, D – Borås HC (Allsvenskan)
6’3, 192lbs
6th round, 155th overall, 2007

Hellgren is a big-bodied defenseman who is most comfortable playing in his own end, using his large frame to steer opposing offensive players from scoring areas. After a promising eight points in his rookie campaign in 2008-09, Hellgren had just two goals and a single assist in 50 games this season. He saw his penalty minutes rise from 16 minutes as a rookie to 75 this season.

Hellgren is the youngest of Colorado’s European prospects, and was viewed from the start as a project, so the Avalanche are in no rush to bring the 21-year-old over to North America. He is still somewhat raw, and needs work on his skating and puck-moving skills. He is at least a few seasons away from the NHL.

Russia


Denis Parshin, RW – CSKA Moscow (KHL)

5’10, 165lbs
3rd round, 72nd overall, 2004

Parshin is a 24-year-old offensive sparkplug for CSKA Moscow. He compiled career highs of 21 goals, 22 assists, and 43 points in 56 games this season, and is well equipped with the blazing speed and slick maneuvers of a natural sniper. In the playoffs he has one assist in three games. While his diminutive size has not shown to be much of a hindrance in the KHL, it remains to be seen whether he could compete against NHLers.

While Parshin is perhaps the most NHL-ready of the Avalanche’s European prospects, he has yet to show any desire to leave Russia.