Coyotes European prospects season review

By Jeff Dahlia

While the Phoenix Coyotes have a handful of active prospects playing in Europe, only a few seem to be in the team’s future plans down the road. Here’s a look at how the players fared during the 2005-06 season.

Russia

Enver Lisin, RW — Ak Bars Kazan — Drafted 2004, 2nd round, 50th overall

Enver Lisin is in his second season playing with Kazan in Russia’s top league. He played in a total of 43 games, tallying 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) and was a +4. Even though Kazan is not as deep as they were last season during the lockout, it appeared as if they had more cohesiveness this time around. Even though Ak Bars is a relatively young team, proven veterans such as Alexei Morozov, Sergi Zinovjev, and Denis Zaripov have proved to be the squad’s backbone. As for Lisin, he played on the lower lines with many different forwards. He is just one of a few young prospects playing up front for Kazan.

Lisin and Kazan are getting ready to gear up to play for the league title. Hands down the hottest team in the postseason, Ak Bars will meet Omsk this week.

Dmitri Pestunov, C — Metallurg Magnitogorsk — Drafted 2003, 3rd round, 80th overall

After being loaned to Spartak last season, Dmitri Pestunov rejoined Magnitogorsk this year. He spent the majority of the season anchoring a line with Ed Kudermetov and Ravil Gusmanov. He put up a respective 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) in 48 games played and was a career-high +18. A large part of his success was due to the fact Magnitogorsk was extremely deep this year. They had the likes of young stars Evgeni Malkin (PIT), Stanislav Chistov (ANA), and a steady veteran in Dmitri Yushkevich. They have also benefited from the resurgence of Ruslan Nurtdinov and the excellent play of newcomer goalie Travis Scott.

Pestunov missed the team’s last seven contests due to a fractured collar bone he sustained in a Mar. 22 contest against Lada. He also went on to miss all of Magnitogorsk’s additional games against Avangard, but he’s expected to make a full recovery.

Anton Krysanov, C — Lada Togliatti — Drafted 2005 — 5th round, 148th overall

Having worked his through the Togliatti system, the big center continued to grow with Lada in top league for the second straight season. There were a lot of distractions early on this season when the team’s biggest sponsor and financial backer slashed the team’s payroll in half. Fortunately for the Krysanov, being young and not demanding that large of a salary, his status with the team remained the same throughout the season.

Having lost a lot of their top players, Krysanov and others stepped up and played a bigger role with the team. He centered one of the team’s top lines, helping Togliatti work through the adversity. Krysanov ended the regular season with six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in 47 games played. He was a +1 and had 24 penalty minutes.

Igor Knyazev, D — Khimik Mytischi — Acquired from trade with Carolina in 2003

During the preseason, Igor Kynazev was in North America with the Coyotes. However, when the Coyotes opted to send him to their AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, the rearguard balked at the move and decided to go back home. He rejoined his team, Khimik Voskresenk in late October and made an immediate impact, playing on Khimik’s top pairing.

The team moved from Voskresenk to Mytischi to start 2006, but that didn’t help Kynazev much. He missed a lot of time just about as much as time as he played. He finished the season with four points (3 goals, 1 assist) in 21 games played with a total of 36 penalty minutes.

Alexander Tatarinov, RW – Metallurg Novokuznetsk– Drafted 2000 2nd round 53rd overall

Since leaving the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl system four seasons ago, Tatarinov has yet to stick with a team for more than one season. In that four-year span, he has played for five teams, the most current being Novokuznetsk. He actually started the 2005-06 season with Khimik Voskresenk, but was traded to Novokuznetsk in December. Altogether, Tatarinov put up eight points, (2 goals, 6 points) in 35 games played between the two teams.

Igor Samoilov, D – Mechel Chelyabinsk — Drafted 2000 7th round, 217th overall

Samoilov bounced around a little this season playing on three different teams in the Vysshaya Liga. He started the season with Yuzhny Ural Orsk, was traded to Khimik Voskresenk but ended the season with Chelyabinsk. Between the three squads, he tallied nine points (all assists) in 37 games played. He was a -10 and racked up 73 penalty minutes.

Switzerland

Beat Forster, D — Zurich Lions — Drafted 2001, 3rd round, 78th overall

Beat Forster joined the Zurich Lions for the 2005-06 season after winning the league title with HC Davos last year. However, his debut was delayed when he sustained a leg injury during training camp. He joined the club after sitting out 10 games. A gritty defensive defenseman, Forster racked up a career-high 83 penalty minutes in 32 games. He also had five points (3 goals, 2 assists)

For the seventh year in a row, Forster also represented the Swiss in international competition. This year it was at the 2006 Winter Olympics in the Turin, Italy. He played in six games, had no points and logged six penalty minutes.

Severin Blindenbacher, D — Zurich Lions — Drafted 2001 9th round, 273rd overall

After growing up within Kloten Flyers system, Severin Blindenbacher left the club at the conclusion of the 2004-05 season. He joined Zurich and looked to help the Lions on the blue line. The team struggled throughout the year due to injuries. He finished the year with nine points (2 goals, 7 assists), 68 penalty minutes in 44 games played.

Like Forster, Blindenbacher played in the 2006 Winter Olympics in the Turin, Italy. He appeared in all six games, had one lone assist and had six penalty minutes. This was the fifth time in the last seven years in which Blindenbacher represented his country in international play.

Finland

Sami Venalainen, F — Tappara — Drafted 2000, 8th round, 249th overall

Even though he played on a very talented team with a deep roster, Sami Venalainen was able to put in another consistent effort this season. It also helped that head coach Jukka Rautakorpi returned to Tappara and tried to bring a new brand of hockey to the team. He spent the major of his time on the top lines and saw his point total go back up. Even though he’s not regarded as that much of an offensive threat, he did put up 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists), logged 48 penalty minutes in 56 games played. Venalainen also earned three-first stars and three-second stars throughout the season.

Venalainen also tallied one goal and two penalty minutes in six games as Tappara lost Assat in the opening round of the SM-Liiga playoffs.

Sweden

Liam Lindstrom, C — Hammarby — Drafted 2003, 4th Round, 115th overall

After spending the last two seasons with Sundsvall in the Sweden’s 2nd tier league, Liam Lindstrom joined Hammarby for the 2005-06 season. Both Lindstrom and Hammarby had rough years. The team finished second to last, just eight points above Arboga.

For the steady two-way forward, he put up seven points (3 goals, 4 assists), 40 penalty minutes in 40 games played.

Eugene Belashchenko contributed to this report. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.