Avalanche European prospects update

By Zoran Manojlovic

The Colorado Avalanche organization has scaled down their selection of European prospects at the Entry Draft. In the last three drafts, only three European prospects have been selected. Linus Videll in 2003, and Denis Parshin and Richard Demen-Willaume in 2004.

In 2005’s draft none were selected, while there were five players were taken that are playing or would play in college hockey this season. This is probably much thanks to the new CBA rules that allow teams only two years to sign European prospects. One other reason could be the decrease of drafting rounds from nine to seven.

In this article we take a look at progress of the three previously mentioned prospects as well as Mikko Kalteva, 2002 draft pick.

Mikko Kalteva, D, Jokerit, (FIN)

Kalteva has finally cracked the Jokerit men’s team lineup. The Avalanche selected him in the fourth round, 107th overall in the 2002 draft. Since being drafted, Kalteva spent the majority of his time playing for the Jokerit junior-A team where he put in a solid performance. He has also been a frequent member of the Finnish Junior national teams where he has played in both the U-18 and U-20 WJC.

Kalteva’s size and solid mobility are his best attributes. He has a good attitude and is a tireless worker who can mix it up. He’s a solid puckhandler who can deliver a solid first pass, but he’s more of a defensive-minded defenseman.

In 53 games this season, Kalteva has scored 2 goals and added an assist while racking up 26 PIM’s and a –16 plus/minus. Those are solid numbers for a rookie defenseman playing on a poor team.

Kalteva should stay another season in Jokerit and hone his game before moving across the pond. If he ever comes over, he’ll have to spend some quality time in the AHL and learn the game the hard way. His upside is as a depth defenseman with defensive duties first.

Linus Videll, LW, Södertälje/AIK (SWE, SWE-1)

Videll has been considered a solid prospect for some years now. But he has still to crack the regular lineup of Södertälje in the Swedish Elitserien. He has been playing on three different teams this past season and performed rather well with all of them.

In 31 games with Södertälje in Elitserien, he has scored 1 goal and added another 3 assists in a very limited role. Then he was assigned for a conditioning sting to the junior league team where he scored 2 goals and 4 points in 2 games. The other major part of the season was spent with another Stockholm-area team, AIK in Allsvenskan. With AIK Videll scored 6 goals and 13 points in 20 games. Those numbers are solid but unimpressive as he scored 6 goals and 15 points in 27 games the year before.

Videll’s size and the nose for the net have always been his best attributes. He has improved his skating and hockey sense and is rounding out into a solid third line winger. He still has to add another gear in his skating as well as being more physical.

Videll has spent a lot of time in Sweden without getting the real breakthrough or making a real big stride in his development. He has been with Colorado at training camp already and he might be willing to move over the pond and work his way up from the minor leagues next season.

He has the upside of third line checking winger who can chip in a few goals and put in a good performance every night.

Denis Parshin, RW, CSKA, (RUS)

Parshin is one of the most talented hockey players out there. He’s a pure puckhandler who can create magic on his own. This is also the reason why he was selected in the third round, 73rd overall by the Avalanche in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, despite his small stature at 5’9.

There were some rumors at he draft day that the Red Wings, on the advice of Chief European Scout Håkan Andersson, were about to select Parshin if he was still available to them in the third round. This would than have been a fitting selection for the guy who has drafted the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Parshin is a typical European prospect with tons of skill and upside, but with small size and a long development curve.

Parshin has spent his entire career with the CSKA hockey club and is now in his third year in the Russian Super League. He still hasn’t managed to earn a regular spot on one of the top-3 lines and is getting limited ice time.

His size has always been questionable and still is. He hasn’t added the much-needed strength to improve his game at the next level. He’s about the same size he was two years ago, which means that he has serious trouble playing in the traffic areas. His overall game is also pretty much the same as he likes to handle the puck and is very creative. He needs better support in order to effectively use his sensational hockey sense and puck skills.

This season he has scored 2 goals and 10 points in 39 games which is not very impressive for a guy who is offense-only. He will probably spend another season in Russia and try to gain some strength.

Parshin will have to play on the top-2 lines, with a good supporting cast if he’s going to be effective. He’s a true boom or bust prospect, and unfortunately right now he looks like a bust.

Richard Demen-Willaume, D, Frölunda, (SWE)

Demen has been one of the best 86-born prospects in Sweden for a long time. But now, two years after the draft he has been surpassed by several other 86-born players. One of the biggest reasons is that he has had some injury problems which have forced him to miss several games, including this year’s WJC.

Demen got back in time for the tournament, but the coach didn’t feel that he was fit enough to be on the team. Talking to a few scouts about this issue, they feel that he should have been there anyway as he still is among the best in his age group. But not always do scouts have the same opinion as the coaching staff.

This season he has split time between the Frölunda men’s team and the junior team. With the men’s team he has been dressed for 42 games scoring 2 goals and 3 points in a very limited role. He has spent most of the time as the sixth or seventh defenseman. With the junior team he has just played in 10 games scoring solid 4 goals and 12 points.

Demen has great size and is very mobile. He moves the puck pretty well and has started to develop his hockey sense, which was one of his biggest weaknesses previously. He also has a physical side to his game and can deliver the occasional big hit.

He needs to continue developing his physical game as well as improving his hockey sense in order to be seriously considered as an NHL prospect. He will most likely spend at least another season in Sweden, but he has the upside of being a fifth or sixth defenseman.

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