Much of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ success over the past 15 years has been the result of great drafting of European born players, including players like Jaromir Jagr. The Penguins are hoping that today’s crop of European picks enjoy similar success. In 2004-05, the Penguins have eight prospects sharing ice time with locked-out NHL players in Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.
Evgeni Malkin, C – Metallurg (Magnitogorsk), Russian Super League
Height – 6’4, Weight – 185 lbs, D.O.B – 1986-07-31
Pittsburgh’s first pick in the 2004 draft, second overall, returned this season with his Russian Super League team Metallurg, based in his hometown of Magnitogorsk. In 34 games during season 2003-04, Malkin compiled 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) with limited ice time, but showed enough to win the Rookie of the Year. Already this season he is fast approaching those numbers, with two goals and six assists through 18 games. Malkin’s season highlight so far was a 6-3 victory for his team over rivals Spartak Moscow, where he contributed a goal and two assists within 12 minutes late in the third period to seal the win for his team. For his efforts Malkin was named the game’s first star.
Sergei Anshakov, LW – CSKA Moscow, Russian Super League
Height – 6’1, Weight – 185 lbs, D.O.B – 1984-01-13
Acquired in a trade that saw Martin Straka leave Pittsburgh for Los Angeles in November 2003, Anshakov is one of the most intriguing prospects in the Penguins system. With plenty of raw talent, Anshakov is developing quickly under the tutelage of renowned Russian coach Viktor Tikhonov, despite Anshakov’s reported attitude problems. Anshakov has a natural goal scoring ability, but lacks some on-ice vision where he is often caught with his head down, causing him to miss scoring opportunities.
Anshakov competed in his second season in the Russian Super League in 2003-04, playing 33 games for three goals and two assists, and showed he has developing some defensive responsibility by posting a +1. Anshakov has had limited opportunities this season, playing only four scoreless games.
Johannes Salmonsson, LW – Djurgården, Swedish Elite League
Height – 6’2, Weight – 178 lbs, D.O.B – 1986-02-07
The most talked about Swedish prospect of the 2004 draft, Salmonsson was a steal by the Penguins, taken with the first pick of the second round. A gifted scorer with good skating, Salmonsson is developing all the tools to make it in the NHL. As a 17-year-old in the 2003-04 season, he was selected to play for Djurgården in the Super Elite League in Sweden, where he registered three assists in 25 games of limited ice time. Salmonsson showed his strong scoring ability for Djurgården’s under-20 team that same season, with four goals and nine assists in only six games.
This season Salmonsson has again split time between the junior and senior clubs. He has played nine games for the Elite League team, scoring one assist, while going scoreless in two games for the Under-20 team. In the preseason opener however, Salmonsson enjoyed plenty of success, scoring two goals and an assist in a 7-1 victory. He is expected to continue his development in Sweden, where he will no doubt gain plenty of experience playing next to established NHL’ers such as Mariusz Czerkawski and Marcus Nilson.
Michael Sivek, C – HC Sparta Praha, Czech Elite League
Height – 6’4, Weight – 203 lbs, D.O.B – 1981-01-21
Sivek is relatively well known to Penguins fans, having spent most of his early professional career playing in Pittsburgh, or with their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre. Sivek’s career could be described as a disappointment thus far, failing to live up to the expectations of being the first pick of the second round by the Washington Capitals in 1999. When the Penguins acquired him as part of the Jaromir Jagr trade in 2001, they were hoping that he would make the most of his rare combination of size and mobility.
For season 2004-05, Sivek has returned to his home country of the Czech Republic to play for his old club, HC Sparta Praha. In 12 games so far this season, Sivek has only managed a goal and two assists. His three points rank 15th in team scoring, 15 points behind team leader David Vyborny who is also spending time at the Czech club during the NHL lockout.
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Daniel Fernholm, D – Djurgården, Swedish Elite League
Height – 6’3, Weight – 210 lbs, D.O.B – 1983-12-20
With good size and a two way game, Daniel Fernholm is one of Pittsburgh’s most promising young blueliners. Drafted in the second round in 2002, Fernholm has progressed quite strongly in his short professional career in Sweden. Big and strong at 6’4, 230 lbs, Fernholm has the size to intimidate even the most powerful forwards. After starting the 2003-04 season in Sweden’s second tier league, he was promoted to Djurgården’s top side mid-season, and put on 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in only 37 games.
Now a permanent member of the senior squad, Fernholm has taken a more responsible defensive role, using his size to work the boards and the corners. Fernholm has only the solitary point, a goal, through 13 games, but did register two goals and two assists during the preseason.
Patrick Bartschi, C – HC Kloten, Swiss Elite League
Height – 5’10, Weight – 190 lbs, D.O.B – 1984-08-20
A true sniper, Bartschi enjoyed plenty of goal scoring success throughout his junior career. His best performance was perhaps in last years Under-18 World Junior Championships, where he registered five goals and two assists in only six games. There were high hopes for Bartschi this season after a successful 2003-04 campaign for his Swiss Elite League team, HC Kloten. Unfortunately, though, Bartschi was injured and has yet to play a game this season.
Ondrej Nemec, D – Vsetinska Hokejova, Czech Elite League
Height – 6’0, Weight – 190 lbs, D.O.B – 1984-04-18
A strong offensive defenseman, Nemec was first introduced to Penguins fans late last season when he was assigned to Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, for the playoffs. The 20-year-old is now in the midst of his third season in the Czech Republic’s top league, after putting together four goals and 11 assists over 81 contests in the past two seasons. Through 15 games this season, Nemec has posted a goal and two assists, and has racked up 22 penalty minutes.
Tomas Duba, G – HC Lassellsberger Plzen, Czech Elite League
Height – 6’1, Weight – 185 lbs, D.O.B – 1984-01-13
Duba is another promising goaltending prospect for the Penguins, who already boast two other high profile young netminders in Marc-Andre Fleury and Andy Chiodo. Duba got his first chance as starter in the Czech league last season whilst playing for HC Znojemsti Orli, and made a strong impression. Duba posted 27 wins from 47 starts, with a goals against average of 2.41, and including four shutouts. This record enabled him to win that league’s Rookie of the Year award.
Duba has now moved to HC Lassellsberger Plzen, where he has already started in 15 games, posting five wins with a GAA at 2.42. His save percentage is much more impressive, so far saving over 93 percent of the shots on his goal. It may be tough for him to crack an NHL start in the coming years, due to the Penguins great depth at this position.
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