As with the last few years, a number of players moved from the KHL to America. Sure there have also been some transfers the other way around, such as Evgeny Nabokov signing a 4-yr deal with SKA St. Petersburg or Tuesday’s news of Yann Danis signing with Amur Khabarovsk, but let's focus on the chances of the relatively unknown former KHL players with their NHL clubs.
The first player isn’t really an unknown - we’re talking about Johan Harju. Forming a dynamic duo with Edmonton Oilers’ Linus Omark, he has been thought as a blue chip prospect within the Lightning organization. And the two caused a lot of chat last year when they both accepted an offer from Dynamo Moscow of the KHL instead of reporting to the NHL.
Well, if Omark has had some success in Russia, the same can’t be said for Harju. The native of Overtornea, Sweden, had a mere four goals during the 2009-10 season, and even though he added 14 assists his season was far from being successful. He recently signed a deal with the Lightning and thus he’s going to play in the NHL next season, but frankly if a player failed in the KHL, can he succeed in the more demanding NHL game? The question is a lot more serious when we are talking about a European player. Not promising.
Another Swede who moved from Russia to the Lightning is 31-year-old Nicklas Persson. The versatile player recently signed a one-yr deal with the organization and he looks to be a lot more ready for the NHL compared to Harju. He had a very good season with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, which was one of the KHL surprises of the season with the runners-up of HC MVD, resulting the best of his team in assists, points and average ice time among forwards. He scored 13 goals and 25 assists in 55 games, being plus-14. He’s a more rounded player than Harju as he is a valuable presence at both ends of the ice as well as a good leader. He has a good shot at success.
The third and last player is right winger, 29-year-old Jonas Andersson, drafted and signed by the Nashville Predators. The 1999 second round pick spent the 2009-10 season with Dynamo Minsk of the KHL, the Belarusian team. Dynamo Minsk wasn’t a good team at all during last season, but Andersson managed to have not a bad season with seven goals and 20 points in 30 games. The readers should remember that in the KHL players score far fewer points than in the NHL. This move is actually a return as Andersson spent four seasons within the Predators system, playing five games in the NHL, but it didn’t work out. Now he’s a different player and, being his contract one-way only, most likely he’ll start the season with the Preds. Will it work out?
I’d say that right now the player of the three which has a better chance is Persson, then Andersson, then Harju. But Harju is very young and should he not be able to stick at the NHL level he’ll get another chance, Persson and Andersson won’t.