Previously on the Mark Rivkin Hockey Review we mentioned how Europe has recently been staging a greater presence on the global ice hockey scene. This displays the ever growing popularity of our fine sport, as well as the increased availability of highly skilled players from a worldwide market. Not long ago ESPN released a preview of the top Europeans coming back for the 2013 NHL season; or what’s left of it anyway. This Mark Rivkin edition will only review the top five but check out the full report at ESPN’s website for reviews on all the best European hockey players.
- Evgeni Malkin will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins after playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, so experts don’t expect a drop in his production this season. As the defending Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner Malkin was second in league scoring with 65 points in 37 games, which make his teammates as well as those in the front office excited.
- Sergei Gonchar will return to the Ottawa Senators. He has actually been playing in the KHL with Malkin this fall, and Malkin even named Gonchar as a “significant factor in his development.” Sergei Gonchar was third among all KHL defensemen with 29 points in 37 games. With Jared Cowen out for the majority of this season, the Senators will need the veteran to step up and lead the way for the younger players on the team.
- Semyon Varlamov will return to the Colorado Avalanche after proving last year that his skills suggest he can be the most dependable goaltender on the team. Although he and the Avs fell short of the playoffs, his .946 save percentage during his recent time in the KHL foreshadows high hopes for the NHL.
- John Tavares will be with the New York Islanders in 2013, and as a team that’s still developing the reduced season might be beneficial. General Manager Garth Snow should be pleased to know that Tavares was very impressive during his time played for the second-ranked team in the Swiss Elite League, with 42 points in 28 games.
- Damien Brunner will play for the Detroit Red Wings after developing an exciting chemistry with Red Wings new captain, Henrik Zetterberg during their time playing for Zug of the Swiss Elite League. Brunner had 57 points in 33 games, outpacing even Zetterberg’s 32 points in 23 games.