NHL Draft: These young Europeans might be the first to go

NHL Draft: These young Europeans might be the first to go

21 Jun 2014 | Markus Nisius

Next weekend the NHL teams will once again pick the players they believe will provide them with a bright future. Eurohockey.com takes a look at the European youngsters, who might be drafted very early.


Leon Draisaitl (Germany): The center from Cologne left Europe 2 years ago to play WHL hockey for the Prince Albert Raiders after becoming the DNL player of the year for Adler Mannheim’s youth team. In Canada he developed his game even more and became the team’s topscorer with 105 points in 64 regular season games scoring 38 goals. Experts even started comparing him to Jaromir Jagr. His stellar play earned him a spot on the German national team in this year’s World Championships in Minsk and he wasted no time to contribute with 1 goal and 3 assists. He is expected to become the highest drafted German player ever, a record currently hold by Marcel Goc, who went No 20 overall in 2001.

Julius Honka (Finland): Coming out of Jyväskylä’s youth program the Finnish defender, like Draisaitl, went to the WHL to develope his game and get NHL ready. For the Swift Current Broncos he had 56 points in 62 games this year and can be regarded an offensive minded defender, which should make him a valuable asset for any NHL team in the future. The reason he is not ranked higher than 11th among North American skaters might be his lack of size although he makes up for it with great mobility.

Kasperi Kapanen (Finland): In a very disappointing season for Kuopio this top ranked European skater was one of the rare highlights for KalPa in the past year. In his first full season with the senior team he racked up 14 points in 47 games. He is known as a technically impressive player with lots of creativity, all assets he might have learned from his father, NHL veteran Sami Kapanen. Kasperi is no stranger to international play too. He appeared in the U18 World Cup for Finland amassing 10 points in 12 games and represented KalPa in the European Trophy in 2013, where he scored 3 goals in 6 games. Expect Kasperi Kapanen to be drafted high.

William Nylander (Sweden): The speedy Calgary native, who carries the Canadian citizenship as well, went another way in his career. As most youngsters move from Europe to the American minor leagues for development, he came from North America to Södertälje. After collecting 43 points in only 27 games in the SuperElit in 2012/13, the highest junior league in Sweden, he was ready for the professional level. So he went to Modo to play SHL and got 7 points in 22 games there before being loaned to the second tier Allsvenskan, where he first played for Rögle, then again for Södertälje. Like Kasperi Kapanen he also has a famous father in Michael Nylander. Except for his defensive game he is already very far in his development.

Kevin Fiala (Switzerland/Czech Republic): The Swiss center is known for his ability to decide games with his brilliant stick handling and great speed. At the age of 16 he left Zurich to join Malmo and play in the Swedish SuperElit, where he almost scored a point per game. This led to a contract with HV71 where he continued to play SuperElit, but also made his first strides in the SHL, where he didn’t speed down with 11 points in 17 games. In Minsk he also represented the Swiss senior team in the World Championships in 7 games. If he manages to improve his defensive play, he should have a promising NHL career ahead.

Ville Husso (Finland): The young Finnish goalie was also eligible for the last draft in 2013, but was not selected as most scouts did not trust his qualities to make it in the NHL or even a professional level. But those concerns were shattered by Husso with a splendid season in the Finnish elite league for Helsinki IFK achieving a 1.99 GAA and a .923 save percentage. This output made him the top ranked European goalie this year and he should find an NHL team next weekend.

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