While we patiently await the beginning of the NHL season in North America, the European hockey calendar is already in full swing, with both domestic leagues and the newly formed Champions Hockey League (CHL) well underway.
This, along with our continuing Prospect Rankings, makes it a good time to see how Montreal Canadiens draft picks are doing on the Old Continent.
People started taking note of Martin Reway in a big way last year. He set career-highs in the QMJHL, led the Slovak junior team with ten points and contributed another three points in a stint with the senior Slovak squad at the World Championships.
As the 2014-15 season has gotten underway, he has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down. Playing for HC Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic, Reway has been a solid contributor, posting seven assists in six domestic league games.
He has also shone in the Champions League, where his side plays in arguably the toughest group of the tournament. There, the diminutive forward has put up five points in four games and helped Prague maintain its tenuous hold at the top of Group G.
They play a final CHL contest against Alder Manheim on October 7th, after which we will know for certain if Reway and his teammates move on the elimination round.
Arturri Lehkonen was another player who was hard to ignore last year, namely coming to prominence with a strong performance on the gold medal Finnish World Junior squad.
The winger has spent the last two seasons playing against men in the Finnish Liiga and has transitioned to Swedish side Frölunda for 2014-15. Though he is still only 19 years old, like Reway above, the winger does not seem troubled by his older opposition. He has averaged just under a point per game, contributing a combined seven points in nine games between the Swedish League and CHL.
Frölunda have already punched their ticket to the next round of the CHL though their elimination round opponent is not yet known.
Now with MODO in the Swedish League, Joonas Nattinen has always been pegged as a defensive line center. Given that, the fact that he has only one assist in five games should neither be surprising nor particularly concerning.
What is concerning, however, is that he has only won 43.6% of his faceoffs and is a minus-3. Not exactly the numbers you want to see for a defensive forward.
Strictly speaking, it is hard to consider Andreas Engqvist a prospect anymore. He is already 26 years old, is entering his seventh professional season and hardly blew anyone away during his time in the Canadiens system.
Having said that, the sizable Swedish forward still remains property of the club until June 30th 2015 and is putting up strong numbers in the KHL, registering six goals in nine games for Atlant Mytishchi.
The KHL season ends in late March and as our Brian La Rose recently mused in an e-mail, if Engqvist keeps doing well “it’s not crazy to think that Montreal gives him a look at the end (of the year).”
Frankly, Trunev appears on this list purely for the sake of thoroughness. The bottom ranked player in our Prospect Ranking, he has done little to improve his stock early in the 2014-15 campaign.
He has suited up for eight of Nizhnekamsk‘s first nine KHL contests this year, putting up a goal and two assists in the process. While that already puts him almost halfway to last season’s point total — he had seven points in 27 games — it still is nowhere near good enough for him to win over Habs’ management.