If there was a theme to the season in Liiga in 2015-16 it can best be described by the old adage, “Youth shall be served.”
Much of the attention focused on 17-year-olds Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi — who barring any major surprises will be among the top three players picked in the 2016 NHL Draft. In terms of drafted forward prospects, three of their teammates on the gold medal champion U20 team also had big seasons and could be signing NHL contracts in the near future. Read more»
The Tampa Bay Lightning have primarily gone to the CHL in making draft selections over the past two drafts. 12 of the team’s 16 picks were taken from the top junior league in Canada, two were drafted out of Europe (though one is now playing in the CHL) and while the other two players, Kris Oldham and Ryan Zuhlsdorf, had commitments to NCAA schools, so they will not join the collegiate ranks until next season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning‘s prospect pool has maintained good health despite the continual graduation of top-notch prospects. A number of close-to-ready prospects played small roles with the team last season, while others like Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat emerged as top-six forwards. Players like Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nesterov, still considered prospects, are expected to make the leap this season, but there’s still quality and quantity at other levels. Read more»
The eighth KHL season has begun as this year, the league’s first game – the Opening Cup game between SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow – took place on August 24th. The reason for the early start is that the 2016 IIHF World Championship will be held in Russia, and therefore the league will need to finish a bit earlier than usual to accommodate the international competition. Read more»
Liiga has steadily seen some of the top young forward prospects in Finland head elsewhere rather than pursuing careers in the nation’s top domestic pro league. That happened once again in 2014-15 as two of the heroes from the 2014 World Juniors — KalPa Kuopio left wing Artturi Lehkonen (Montreal) and Teuvo Teravainen (Chicago), Liiga’s sixth-leading scorer skating for Jokerit in 2013-14 — are no longer playing in Finland. Read more»