Hab prospects’ year-end review (Euro edition)

By Chris Boucher

Alexander Perezhogin -F (Drafted-01(1/25))

Perezhogin played most of the season with Mostovik Kurgan of the Russian High League. He started the season with an 8-game point-scoring streak, which placed the 5’11”, 175-lbs center near the top of the league-scoring race for much of the early part of the season. He finished with a 1.26 point-per-game average through 19 games. He had 24 points (14-10-24) to go along with 10 minutes in penalties. In addition to his season-opening 8-game streak, the 18-year-old also enjoyed two 3-game streaks. In fact, he was held off the score sheet in only 5 of 19 games.

Perezhogin also played 3 games with Omsk of the Russian Super League, where he scored 1 goal to go along with 4 minutes in penalties. He ended off the year by playing for Russia in the World Junior Championship. He suffered from a knee injury throughout the tournament, and left the Czech Republic without registering a point. Through 5 games his plus/minus was even, and he managed 8 shots on goal to go along with 4 minutes in penalties.

Perezhogin eventually traveled to Montréal in order to receive treatment for his knee injury. It was established that he did not need surgery. Two weeks rest, combined with medication was enough to heal the injury. However, he was unable to return to action prior to season’s end.

Tomas Plekanec -F (Drafted-01(3/71))

Plekanec spent last season with Kladno, who finished in last place in the Czech Extraliga. Overall, the 5’10”, 196-lbs winger played 48 games. He had 23 points (7-16-23), and was -7 with 28 minutes in penalties.

As a 19-year-old Plekanec led his team in assists, and was the team’s fourth leading scorer overall. He had 6 multi-point games, including a 4-point game during a 7-3 win over Havirov on January 25th. He had an impressive run over the last stretch of the season. In fact, through the last 9 games of the season Plekanec averaged a point-per-game (2-7-9). He managed only a slight improvement on his rookie point per game average of 0.43, as his 2001-02 PPG average was a comparable 0.48.

The versatile forward also played for the Czech Republic during the World Junior Championship. He played center on a line with Edmonton draft pick Ales Hemsky. He was second on the team in scoring with 7 points (3-4-7) through 7 games. The 19-year old was -1, and directed a team-best 24 shots on goal. He won 49 % of his face-offs, while taking the most draws of any pivot on the Czech team. Plekanec also played on last year’s gold medal winning squad, where he scored 1 goal while adding 1 assist through 7 tournament games.

Kladno’s poor season means won’t compete in the Czech Republic’s top league next season. With this in mind the Canadiens decided to sign Plekanec to a 3-year contract. Barring a phenomenal training camp, this will allow one of the team’s top prospects to continue his development in the AHL next season.

Joni Puurula -G (Drafted-00(8/243))

HPK’s Joni Puurula contracted a mysterious disease at the start of the season; similar to salmonella. At one point he couldn’t even get out of bed without help. He eventually recovered in time to become the team’s top goalie in the playoffs. Through 9 career Finnish Elite League regular season games the 19-year-old rookie was undefeated. He finished with an 8-0-1 record, a 2.09 GAA and .912 save percentage.

Puurula wasn’t expected to see any action in the post season, but an injury to starter Mika Pietila forced the young goaltender into action. He was stellar as a replacement, taking the team to the second round of the playoffs before losing to Jokerit. He finished the playoffs with the third-best GAA (1.72), and save percentage (.936). Both numbers were just behind highly touted 2002 draft-eligible Kari Lehtonen.

Johan Eneqvist -F (Drafted-00(4/109))

Leksands IF’s Johan Eneqvist spent much of the final few weeks of the season playing in the Swedish junior league. He did however return for the senior team’s final game; contributing 3 assists during a 10-1 win. Overall, the 6’0″, 190-lbs forward played most of the season with Leksand’s senior team. Through 38 League games he had 10 points (3-7-10), and was +1 with 22 minutes in penalties.

The 20-year-old also played 4 junior league games over the course of the season. Here he had 7 points (3-4-7), and was +11 with 8 minutes in penalties. Two of his 3 junior-league goals were scored shorthanded.

Alexander Buturlin -RW (Drafted-99(2/39))

Buturlin wasn’t offered a contract by the Canadiens following last season, so he decided to continue his development back home in Russia. The 6’0″, 187 lbs. Buturlin started the season well, as he recorded an assist in the first game of the season. He had 3 points through the first 6 games of the season, but was unable to record another point in any of his next 9 games. He ended up playing 33 games with Salavat Yulayev, where he managed 6 points (3-3-6) to go along with 42 minutes in penalties.

Victor Ujcik -F (Drafted-01(9/266))

Viktor Ujcik’s season would have been even more impressive if he didn’t suffer through a 7-game scoreless drought through most of November. Overall, the 5’10”, 194-lbs winger played 52 games. He had 48 points (25-23-48), and was +2 with 51 minutes in penalties. He finished the regular season in 9th place among Czech Extraliga scorers, while leading Slavia Praha to sixth spot in the league’s final standings.

Statistically speaking Ujcik was the Habs’ eleventh most improved prospect. He improved on his 00-01 numbers by 0.16 points-per-game, as he went from a 0.76 PPG average that year to a 0.92 PPG average in 2001-02.

He enjoyed one point-scoring streak of 7 games to go along with another streak of 4 games with at least one point. He had 9 multi-point games, including two games where he scored 4 points. The end of the regular season was particularly strong for the 29-year-old, as he managed 19 points through the last 12 games of the season.

Ujcik was unable to carry his performance into the playoffs, as he managed only 3 goals through 9 playoff games. He ended the playoffs with a -6 rating to go along with 6 minutes in penalties. At this point Ujcik’s future can only be described as uncertain. With him pushing 30, the window of opportunity (NHL-wise) is closing quickly.

Euros From Less-recent Draft Years

-Kim Staal, the Habs’ 4th round pick in ’96 had 37 points (14-23-37) through 49 games with Modo of the Swedish Elite League. He had a +11 rating to go along with 16 minutes in penalties. Three of his goals were scored on the powerplay. He ended the season 3rd on his team in scoring, and sat in 15th place among the league’s top-scorers. Statistically Staal was the Habs’ thirteenth most improved prospect. He had a 0.76 PPG average in 01-02, compared to a 0.65 PPG average in 00-01; an improvement of 0.11 PPG.

Staal was able to continue his production into the playoffs, despite suffering through some injury problems that forced him out of 3 playoff games. He finished the playoffs as the league’s fifth leading scorer. Through 12 games the 24-year-old managed 10 points (3-7-10) to go along with a +2 rating and 2 minutes in penalties. One of his playoff goals was scored on the powerplay.

Niklas Anger, the Habs’ 5th round pick in ’95 had 32 points (12-20-32) through 50 games, and was -14 with 16 minutes in penalties. Four of his goals were scored on the powerplay, while 3 others were scored shorthanded. He also led his team in scoring. The 6’2″, 195-lbs. right winger returned to the prospect radar screen because of an impressive improvement in offensive production. In fact, the 24-year-old was the Habs’ third most improved prospect, as he more than doubled his 2000-01 point total. He finished this season with a 0.64 PPG average compared to 0.30 PPG the previous year; an improvement of 0.34 PPG.

-Ilkka Mikkola, the Habs’ 3rd round pick in ’97 had 5 points (3-2-5) through 52 games with Jokerit of the Finnish Elite League. He was also +12 with 14 minutes in penalties. Mikkola contributed at a slightly higher pace during the playoffs, as he managed 4 points (1-3-4) through 12 playoff games. His playoff plus/minus was +4, and he also picked up 6 minutes in penalties. A defensive defenseman, the 23 year-old’s point-per-game average went from 0.24 PPG in 2000-01 to 0.09 PPG this season; a drop of 0.15 PPG.

**Click on the Canadiens’ logo at the top left of the page to see a listing of the Habs’ top prospects. Including biographical information and stats.

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