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Flyers Prospect Season Overview: European Leagues

Thursday, 05.24.2007 / 2:46 PM ET / News
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Flyers Prospect Season Overview: European Leagues

by Al Alven

This is the third of three parts of a season review of Philadelphia Flyers prospects currently in the system.

As the Flyers prepare to embark on a pivotal offseason, General Manager Paul Holmgren and his staff will be faced with a number of intriguing challenges.

The most obvious pertain to the courses the team opts for with regard to the upcoming entry draft and free agency. Both of these ventures will be heavily influenced by the positional depth the Flyers have accumulated throughout their system over the past few years.

With this in mind, the following is a look at the performances of the organization’s prospects this season in the European leagues.

For Part 1 of the series, which looks at Flyers prospects in the Canadian major junior hockey leagues, click here.

For Part 2 of the series, which looks at Flyers prospects in the NCAA (United States), click here.


Denis Bodrov
Togliatti Lada (Russia)


It generally takes a young defenseman several years to mature into a regular contributor in the Russian Super League, due in part to the circuit’s disciplined nature and defensively-oriented style of play. Bodrov, however, has managed to establish himself as a valuable asset on the blueline for Togliatti Lada after just two seasons.

Selected by the Flyers with the 55th overall selection of last summer’s entry draft, the

Denis Bodrov
20-year-old Moscow native continued to show why he is considered to be one of his homeland’s top defensive prospects in 2006-07. Though his offensive totals improved only slightly from the previous season, he displayed improvement in every area of his game, and remarkable poise in high-pressure situations.

Bodrov possesses strong skills across the board, along with the added dimension of an effective physical game. He appeared in 49 games for Lada this season, recording six points (one goal, five assists), a plus-one rating and 70 penalty minutes.

“Denis has made a very smooth transition to the top league in Russia, which is no easy feat,” said Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren. “It‘s a defense-first league where there is so much emphasis on taking care of the puck and not making mistakes, but he’s made some adjustments and is playing regularly. We were very pleased that we were able to get him with the third of our second round picks last summer, after [Andreas] Nodl and [Michael] Ratchuk.”

Joonas Lehtivuori, D
Ilves Tampere (Finland)

The season that was proved to be a one long learning experience for Lehtivuori, a product of the Ilves Tampere system in Finland and a fourth round draft selection (101st overall) of the Flyers in 2006.

A smooth-skating defenseman with strong puck skills and a good head for the game, Lehtivuori appeared in 40 games with Tampere as a rookie in SM-liiga. He did not record a point, but managed a plus-three rating and 18 penalty minutes while being worked into the team‘s defensive rotations. He will be counted upon to take on an expanded role with more responsibility next season.

Lehtivuori also suited up for Team Finland at the World Junior Championships. The squad turned in a rather disappointing performance on the whole, though Lehtivuori showed signs of promise, particularly with his ability to move the puck up the ice efficiently. As with his situation at Tampere, he is likely to return to the WJCs next year with increased expectations.

“Lehtivuori is a good young defenseman,” observed former Flyer and current European scout Ilkka Sinisalo, prior to the WJC tournament in December. “He’s not real big, but with the way the game is played now, that doesn’t matter as much. We like the way he moves the puck. For a young defenseman, he handles pressure with poise.”

Jakub Kovar, G
Ceske Budejovice (Czech Rep.)

Selected by the Flyers in the fourth round (109th overall) of last summer’s entry draft, Kovar cemented himself as a dominant force at the junior level in the Czech Republic this season. He registered a 2.07 GAA and .929 save percentage in 38 games for Budejovice, improving on his impressive numbers from the previous campaign (2.23 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in 19 games).

The 18-year-old netminder’s standing as a highly-regarded prospect in his homeland was confirmed when he was chosen to play for the national team at this year’s World Junior Championships. There, he appeared in two games while serving as the backup to Atlanta Thrashers draftee Ondrei Pavelec.

It is still unknown where Kovar will play next season. Most scouts and observers agree that he is ready to graduate to the Extraliga, but he is blocked in the Budejovice system behind former NHL’er Roman Turek and 23-year-old year old Jan Chabera. Kovar is reportedly considering making the jump to North America, to continue his development at the major junior level in Canada.

Jakub Kovar is a goaltender that we drafted last year and had an outstanding year,” explained Holmgren. “He played some games for the Czech team in the World Junior tournament as an 18-year old. He’s a player that we’re extremely high on. I know right now he’s a European goaltender that’s looking at options in North America next year in the CHL somewhere. So, in terms of his development, that would probably be a good step for him.”

Other notables

- Swiss prospect Kevin Romy continues to be recognized as one of the top young players in his homeland. The 22-year-old forward tallied 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) and 56 penalty minutes in 40 games this season with Nationalliga A powerhouse HC Lugano.

- Right wing Andrei Popov, the Flyers’ final draft selection last year (7th round, 205th overall) got off to a slow start as a rookie in the Russian Super League, but eventually settled in. He recorded 12 points (two goals, 10 assists), a plus-one rating and 36 penalty minutes in 44 games for Traktor Chelyabinsk.

- Finnish netminder Ville Hostikka finally made his SM-liiga debut with SaiPa Lappeenranta this season, after dressing in eight total contests over the course of the previous four seasons. He appeared in only six games, but posted a sparkling 1.08 GAA and .952 save percentage, making the most of every chance he had to play. According to Holmgren, the 22-year-old has been invited to the Flyers’ conditioning/development camp in July.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 82 22 59 1 81
C. Giroux 81 25 48 -3 73
M. Streit 81 9 43 -8 52
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
B. Schenn 82 18 29 -5 47
S. Couturier 82 15 22 4 37
M. Del Zotto 64 10 22 -5 32
M. Read 80 8 22 -4 30
M. Raffl 67 21 7 6 28
V. Lecavalier 57 8 12 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 18 18 11 .928 2.25
R. Emery 10 11 7 .894 3.06
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