The Boston Bruins had just three prospects playing in Europe this year, two defensemen and one forward. Yuri Alexandrov made tremendous strides as a player in the KHL this season, while Radim Ostrcil put up respectable numbers in the Czech 1st League.
Yuri Alexandrov, D – Severstal Cherepovets (KHL)
6’1, 179 pounds
2nd round, 37th overall, 2006
While Boston’s NHL defensemen have not been overly impressive this season, Yuri Alexandrov’s play should help ease concern over the position. After suffering an injury that forced him to miss almost half of his team’s games last year, Alexandrov recovered nicely to have a positive end to the year, and his stellar play carried over into the 2009-10 season. He led all Severstal defensemen in time on ice with 19:43 per game, and he had the most points with 21 (6 goals and 15 assists). He also boasted the best plus/minus rating among defensemen with a +4, and that was on a non-playoff team. The key for Alexandrov’s development this year was staying healthy, and he did just that, playing in all 56 games. He has quickly emerged as one of the top young defensemen in the KHL with his ability to play in all situations, whether it be running a power play or simply playing a strong defensive game. Alexandrov has the upside of a top-four NHL defenseman someday fairly soon.
Radim Ostrcil, D – SK Slavia Trebic (Czech)
6’0, 198 pounds
6th round, 169th overall, 2007
Ostrcil has finally settled down after two rough years of moving around and he finally seems to be comfortable. After a difficult year in the OHL, he moved back to his native Czech Republic in 2008-09, but adjusting to the Czech 1st league proved to be difficult. This season, with a year of experience and playing on a new team in SK Slavia Trebic, Ostrcil improved his numbers and was even rewarded with a two-game stint in the Czech Extraliga with HC Kormeta Brno. He more than tripled his point total in the second league, going from four points last year (38 games) to 13 points this year (41 games). He has also started to be more physical, and that shows in his increase from 18 penalty minutes to 38 penalty minutes. Ostrcil will try to earn a permanent spot in the Extraliga next year, which should benefit his development.
Carl Soderberg, C – Malmo (Allsvenskan)
6’3, 192 pounds
2nd round, 49th overall, 2006 (by St. Louis)
Playing for Malmo in the Allsvenskan league in Sweden, Carl Soderberg’s numbers took a bit of a hit compared to his impressive totals from last year. His 2008-09 season was his best as a pro hockey player, with 18 goals and 41 assists in only 45 games. This year, the 6’3 center recorded eight fewer points while playing in six more games, but still managed to finish in the top 10 in scoring with 51 points. In the playoffs he has one assist in five games.
The Bruins acquired Soderberg from St. Louis in exchange for goaltender Hannu Toivonen. The former second-round pick has never fully reached his potential as a big, physical, two-way center. His creativity and playmaking ability are still his strengths, but his speed will always be a concern at the highest levels. Given Boston’s depth at the center ice position in the NHL and in their prospect pool, it’s doubtful Soderberg will come back over.