When Dion Phaneuf gets too old to hit people and intimidate, Radko Gudas will be there for the Munich Fox. GM Troy Huzy made the bearded Czech his team’s first pick in the EURO Draft, taking him 20th overall. Gudas hits everything in sight, but he also is capable of playing well positionally and he can get the puck up to the forwards better than a lot of defensemen. Munich doesn’t have a lot of defensemen under contract but the ones they do have are not fun to play against. In addition to Gudas and Phanuef – technically, Phaneuf is an unsigned Type 2 free agent – the Fox also have Eric Gryba and Ryan Wilson, along with the comparatively friendly Magnus Johansson. UPDATE: The Fox just grew into a Dire Wolf. Huzy announced a name and logo change on the WSH website.
Last year at this time, Moscow had two picks in a row and went with a prospect (Darrell Nurse) and a talented veteran who had missed out on previous seasons due to injuries. The selection of Andrei Markov, then 34, was a clear sign that Spartak GM Michael Banker was going for it now. Twenty-seven Markov goals (and 68 points) later, Banker, Markov and their Moscow comrades have their lip prints on the Cup. This year, Banker pressed the accelerator a little more. He traded the first round pick for Kris Versteeg, a 28-year-old, 50-points-per-season right wing who played three years as a Smurf. There’s no telling what Moscow’s four Type 3 free agent forwards might do come signing time, so Versteeg offers a little more insurance and flexibility.
Berlin, meanwhile, with their magic Smurf dust, turned Versteeg into a big German boy named Leon Draisaitl. The prospect center, due to his Deutsch lineage, is the new darling of Berlin’s fans even if it will take him a couple of seasons to make the big club.
Sami Vatanen, a small but crafty defenseman from Finland, came to Germany one pick later when his named was called by Frankfurt GM Bryan Camara. The Inferno now list 11 defensemen on their roster, including the 22-year-old Vatanen and 5 others who are 25 or younger. It’s possible Frankfurt’s Season 6-to-Season 12 defense corps is already in place.
Copenhagen went next in the draft and selected defenseman Nick Holden, who is tall (6-4), smart and has a cannon of a shot. He seems competent in all areas, but is surprisingly green for a 26-year-old, indicating he has not really been given much of a chance to play so far in his minor league career. In Copenhagen, playing for one of the league’s best teams, he will be hard-pressed to break into the starting lineup in his first season.
Paris looked to Germany for their pick, the last one of the first round. Philipp Grubauer, a 22-year-old with Olympic experience, will be Tuukka Rask’s backup in goal, if not this season then in the future.
Stockholm, which saw Belfast zoom by them in the draft lottery and claim the top prize of Ondrej Palat, is using this draft to erect a new defense corps. The two pillars for the future are Olli Maatta, 19, taken second overall, and Cody Ceci, 20, taken with the first pick in the second round. Ceci projects to be a good all-around player, but like most everyone else picked at this stage in the draft, will not make it to the big club for a year or more.
The Madrid Royals, who didn’t have a first round pick, had two in a row right after Stockholm opened the second round. General Manager Roland Lavoie decided to add two more prospects to his collection in big defenseman Haydn Fleury and big right wing Jake Virtanen, who in no way should be confused with Frankfurt’s Vatanen. Madrid now has 7 prospects waiting in the wings … and in goal (Malcolm Subban and Mark Visentin) .. and at center (Mikhail Grigorenko and Marko Dano) .