Latest posts by Mike Gallagher (see all)

When teams draft players and send them to develop in their farm systems, it’s generally somewhere in North America. However, there are select prospects who choose to develop their skills overseas playing in some of the world’s highest level leagues. Here are three players tearing it up outside of North America.

Eeli Tolvanen

The Nashville Predators have continued their success after making it to their first Stanley Cup Finals last season by starting 2018 with a 5-5-2 record. Despite their offensively gifted lineup, there’s always room for more scoring. This may have been the reason for Nashville selecting Eeli Tolvanen with the 30th selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. Prior to the Draft Tolvanen spent two seasons in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers netting 47 goals and 92 points in 101 games. So far Tolvanen has gotten off to an incredible start in the KHL scoring 13 goals and 23 points in 23 games for Jokerit Helsinki. On a team that doesn’t have many high named players Tolvanen is impressing for being just 18 years old. Tolvanen is currently on a one year contract, with an option for a second with Jokerit Helesinki, but if he can continue to keep up this level of play throughout the season, he may be playing for the Predators as early as next year.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kirill Kaprizov is another example of a young player thriving in Russia while his draft team hopes to entice him over to the NHL. Kaprizov, 20, has been playing in the KHL since being drafted 135th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild. After posting respectable numbers in 2016, Kaprizov scored at almost a point per game pace in 2017 netting 20 goals and 42 points in 49 games played. After signing with CSKA Moscow on a three year deal Kaprizov has kept up his incredible scoring pace in 2018. In only 22 games into the season, he currently leads all players in scoring on CSKA Moscow along with sitting 11th in overall KHL scoring with 12 goals and 25 points. Kaprizov has also proved he can play on the international stage being integral in helping Russia take home a bronze medal in the 2017 World Junior Championship scoring 9 goals and 12 points in 7 games. As one of the Wild’s top prospects it’s confusing as to why they didn’t sign him to a contract during the summer, but it may be best to let him to continue to develop in the KHL. Although sometimes once a player stays in the KHL for too long, they’re less likely to come to North America. Only time will tell and he could be an incredible addition to Minnesota’s lineup.

Igor Shestyorkin

After having one of the best goalies in the NHL for the last decade, the New York Rangers could have another franchise goaltender on their hands. Igor Shestyorkin has already proved that he’s one of the top goalies in the KHL at 21, and will hope to continue that trend when he eventually makes his way over to North America. Shestyorkin was drafted 118th overall by New York in the 2014 NHL Draft and has primarily spent his career with St. Petersburgh SKA. While easing into the game as a backup in 2015 and 2016, Shestyorkin played the majority of the team’s game last year en route to winning the Gagarin Cup. In his 39 games played during 2017’s regular season he managed to gather a 27-4-6 record with a 1.64 GAA and .937% save percentage. So far Shestyorkin has continued his winning ways into this season. In 18 games played Shestyorkin has already racked up a 15-1-2 record with an astounding 1.41 GAA and .947% save percentage. At just 21 years of age he currently sits second in save percentage and goals against average throughout the entire KHL. Granted he is on one of the best teams in the league with the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikita Gusev and Pavel Datsyuk, but it’s impossible to deny what Shestyorkin has accomplished in such a short period of time. He currently is under contract until the end of 2019-20 season, but this could all work as a perfect transition for a switch in net for the Rangers.