In draft, Stockholm looks forward

The EURO League’s Season 3 draft is into the third round, with pickings slim and many teams gambling on prospects without attributes.

Of the 24 picks in the second round and the first 6 of the third round, 11 prospects have been selected. The most recent were Kerby Rychel, now of Helsinki (see below) and flashy forward Max Domi of the Phoenix Coyotes, who joins Seth Jones as the new recruits in Frankfurt.

Of all the teams, Stockholm looks the most different from the way it did last week. The Eagles are done drafting unless they get involved in a trade, and they have six new players. Five of them are forwards and two of them are prospects. After taking Brendan Gallagher second overall and Sean Monahan 8th, the Swedes added a young defenseman, Jake Muzzin with the 14th pick. In the second round, center J.T. Miller and big, strong Marcus Foligno – one of the draft’s few left wings – were taken. In the third round, GM Michael Sauer took Curtis Lazar, an 18-year-old center who projects as a good two-way player with budding leadership qualities. When that crop of young forwards matures in Stockholm, they will have some talented veteran forwards to offer guidance. Shane Doan and Tuomo Ruutu will probably be gone, but the old guys on the team then will be the likes of Rick Nash, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Sam Gagner and Derick Brassard. And even before the draft, the Eagles had some promising young forwards in Mattias Sjogren, Jakub Petruzalek, Craig Smith and Jordan Caron. That’s 14 quality forwards mentioned in this paragraph and Stockholm only needs to dress 12 per game.

Oslo has four new players, going the prospect route to nab Elias Lindholm before picking a pair of 25-year-olds – defenseman Matt Irwin and power forward Guillaume Latendresse – in the second and third rounds. In between those picks, Oslo opted for 22-year-old center Andrei Loktionov.

Milan also added four players with two more picks to go. Taken in the first round were goalie Ben Bishop and right wing Peter Mueller, with defensemen Joshua Morrissey and T.J. Brennan going in the second. Morrissey is averaging more than a point a game this season with Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League. From previous drafts, the Guerriero have another defenseman – Brandon Gormley – in the system as well as right wing Joel Armia of Finland.

London, who made Braden Holtby a first overall pick late last week, took three defensemen in the second round and should be finished drafting. Rasmus Ristolainen, wearing Jochen Hecht’s old number for the Buffalo Sabres, will gain attributes for Season 4. Robert Hagg is a big defenseman who was taken in June by the Philadelphia Flyers. He appears to be the stay-at-home type with good size, playing for Modo Ornskoldsvik in Sweden. He has played in 49 games over the last two seasons and is still looking for his first goal. Three picks after taking Hagg, the Dons went for another Swede, Erik Gustafsson, a smallish 24-year-old with excellent wheels.

Prague drafted third in each round, taking an offensive blueline whiz in Justin Schultz, then a dynamic, all-offense forward in Cory Conacher, and finally a defensive specialist in center Riley Nash.

The defending champs had no picks in the first round and two in the second, opting to go with masked men both times. Victor Fasth is 30 and cheap and he will push 37-year-old Jose Theodore out the door. Theodore started 27 games for Paris last season, but sat the bench the entire playoff run, watching Tuukka Rask take the team all the way to the top. Later in the second round, GM Ralph Booth took a goalie of the future that former Calgary Flames GM Craig Button fawned over on NHL draft day. Zach Fucale, currently property of the Montreal Canadiens, will not play for a few seasons in the EURO. This morning, Paris traded down six spots in the draft and acquired grinding winger Colton Gillies in the process. Helsinki apparently initiated the trade with their eye on a particular prospect. Within seconds of the trade going through, GM Trevor Grimm quickly used his new pick pick to select Kerby Rychel, a big, tough forward who can put pucks in nets. Rychel becomes the Jokerit’s third new forward. Well-rounded Cody Eakin went in the first round, and offensive-minded Hunter Shinkaruk of Medicine Hat in the WHL went in the second.


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