European Free Agents Making Waves?
Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News: Trying to find NHL players is not always easy and not every European player is going to turn into Andrei Kuzmenko. However, general managers are always looking anyway. After all, one never knows.
The next Kuzmenko, Panarin, or Bobrovsky is always out there. Hardy Haman Aktell has been fun to watch from Vaxjo of the SHL. The defenseman is only 24 and his offensive skill set seems to be only growing. He was a mid-round draft pick in 2016 who fell through the cracks. At 6-foot-4, the blueliner will be highly sought after now.
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Jiri Smejkal showed he could play in Liiga last year but some wondered what happened when the player moved up to the SHL. The Czechia forward has 23 goals and 43 points in 49 games. He possesses WHL experience and can step in immediately.
Rickard Hugg is interesting. Though he skates not very well, Hugg is everywhere on the ice producing points or creating offense. The 24-year-old holds a nice resume and is cranking out solid production in the SHL again this season. Hugg is just 5-foot-10, but can play in a top-six with some AHL time needed first to develop.
After that, Valtteri Pulli is only 22 but a mountain of a defender. For someone so big, he can skate and is a bit of a project. However that size and increasing speed is intriguing. Samuel Johanneson is a fun defender to look at too from Brynas of the SHL.
After that things get interesting with the likes of Jeremy Bracco. Joni Ikonen, and even Konstantin Okulov. Okulov may get enticed to come over to the NHL someday.
Vancouver And The Search For A 3C
Sekeras And Price: Okay, the Vancouver Canucks need a third-line center. The 3C has been one of those sore spots like a wound that will not heal.
It is a great question because Vancouver has to free up some cash probably to pay a free agent. If the Canucks can do it, what options are out there for the team who needs a two-way pivot who shows the ability to play some defense.
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Now, Ivan Barbashev immediately comes to mind. Then, there is Alex Kerfoot, Oscar Sundqvist, and Tyson Jost among the usual suspects. Even Pius Super and Sam Steel are out there too.
This all boils down to how much cash is Vancouver willing to spend. Honestly, the Canucks may have to pay to play here.