Klingberg should really benefit once he moves from Sweden to North America. He displays an extremely quick first step that is deceiving for a man of his size and he is not afraid to go in the dirty areas of the ice. His offensive numbers this year for Frolunda HC — six goals and seven assists in 42 games — are not indicative of a future first or second line winger in North America, but not only was he young for the level, his value lies more in his ability penetrate on the forecheck and disrupt opposing defenses.
Klingberg will spend the 2010-11 season back with Frolunda where he will continue to hone his offensive skills. If he fully develops as hoped, then he could be a very solid part of the Thrashers top nine for years to come.
Nicklas Lasu, LW, Frolunda HC, Sweden
5th Round, 124th pick 2008
The Thrashers could benefit from the high-energy physical play of Lasu. His Frolunda contract expires at the end of this year and his game has developed to the point where he has an outside shot at a bottom six spot in the NHL next season. While Lasu will never be considered an offensive producer, his pesky play and non-stop motor should earn him an NHL spot some day. Also helping his chances at successfully coming to North America is his versatility. He has played all three forward positions for Frolunda this year and seems comfortable wherever he plays.
Expect Lasu to be in training camp next year and compete hard for a spot. More than likely he will be in the AHL for a season or two before he makes the Thrashers. However, you can’t discount a player who gives everything he has every time he is on the ice.
Enlund had a very good season for Tappara in the Finnish elite league this year. Leading his team with 28 goals in 58 games, he has really shown his ability to put the puck in the net. Perhaps his most intriguing skill is his hockey sense. He always seems to be in the right spot and that has earned him the label of “opportunistic” scorer. He doesn’t wow you with speed or dazzle you with his moves, he just simply knows where to be and he gets there.
Enlund’s contract is up this year so he may be looking to come over in 2010-11. He will most likely need a year or two of the North American game under his belt before sniffing the NHL.
Niklas Lucenius, C, Tappara, Finland
4th Round, 115th pick 2007
Lucenius has an interesting combination of grit and skill. He showed it this year for Tappara, putting up career-best numbers; 17 goals and 29 assists in 56 games. Lucenius is another physical European forward who has some offensive upside. Having just signed a one-year contract extension with Tappara, expect Lucenius to continue to improve his skating next year and try to make the jump over to North America in 2011.
Right now Lucenius projects as a tough third-line checker who drives to the net and is good on the forecheck. The course of his development really has a lot to do with how much he can improve his skating.
Andrei Zubarev, D, Mytishchi Atlant, KHL
6th Round, 187th pick 2005
Atlanta took a chance in 2005 on promising young defenseman Andrei Zubarev. So far that chance is not paying off. Zubarev has really developed into the player the Thrashers knew he could be. With six goals and seven assists in 2009-10, he has been Mytishchi’s (KHL) best defenseman. In addition to his very good offensive numbers, Zubarev is also known for his physical play and steady presence in his own end.
Zubarev would be a virtual lock to make the Thrashers in a top-four role if he made the jump from KHL to NHL. There is too much incentive for him to stay in Russia though.