Our Pledge To You

News

Blackhawks end-of-season prospect review: Overseas leagues

Lucas Carlsson at Blackhawks 2017 prospect camp. | Brian Jackson/ For the Sun-Times

The Blackhawks have been among the NHL’s most aggressive teams scouting and pursuing players in Europe over the years. The hard work resulted in the signing of Artemi Panarin, Antti Raanta, Michal Kempny, Jan Rutta and others, along with a host of prospects drafted from overseas leagues.

There is no Hawks prospect playing in Europe on the same caliber as Dylan Sikura or Henri Jokiharju, the top two talents in the farm system, but a list that runs 11 deep provides some intrigue for those looking to the future. In Russia, there are a couple young forwards who turned heads at World Juniors. In Sweden, there’s a skilled defenseman who could land his first NHL deal this spring.

So as we continue our review of the Blackhawks’ prospects following the 2017-18 season, here’s a look at everyone who played in overseas leagues. Here are the previous posts covering prospects playing in the AHL and in North American juniors.

F Andrei Altybarmakyan
Age: 19
Acquired via: 2017 third-round pick (No. 70)
Stats: 18 points in 32 VHL games; 5 points in 7 MHL games; 0 points in 14 KHL games

There was some head-scratching when the Blackhawks used a third-round pick on Altybarmakyan, a relatively unknown prospect, at the 2017 draft, but it became clear at the 2018 World Juniors why the team targeted him. The young forward played well for the Russian team in Buffalo and showed that he was more than a stab in the dark by the Chicago scouting staff.

Altybarmakyan isn’t close to being NHL-ready yet, but the 19-year-old has shown some scoring ability in Russia. He scored 45 points in 31 games in the MHL, Russia’s junior league, in 2016-17, then recorded 18 points in 32 games in the VHL, Russia’s second-tier pro league, during the past season. A 14-game stint in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg, one of the country’s juggernauts, didn’t go well, but he’s proven to be one of the Hawks’ better prospects.

D Lucas Carlsson
Age: 20
Acquired via: 2016 fourth-round pick (No. 110)
Stats: 17 points in 44 SHL games

Carlsson isn’t quite on par with Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell among Hawks blue line prospects, but the Swedish defenseman has impressed in his two seasons since being drafted in the fourth round. He spent the 2017-18 season playing a key role with Brynas IF in the SHL, Sweden’s top league, as a 20-year-old, and could sign his first NHL deal with Chicago this offseason.

The Blackhawks already have a crowded depth chart on defense, however, so there’s no reason to rush Carlsson to the big leagues. He has the potential to be a solid player in the NHL, maybe even someone who could fill a second-pairing role in the near future. If everyone decides another year of big minutes in Sweden is best for his development, he won’t come over yet.

F John Dahlstrom
Age: 21
Acquired via: 2015 seventh-round pick (No. 211)
Stats: 15 points in 41 Allsvenskan games

Dahlstrom spent the 2016-17 season in the WHL but moved to Sweden’s second division for 2017-18. He recorded eight goals and seven assists in 41 games split between two different teams. The 21-year-old is a fringe NHL prospect at this point.

F Mathias From
Age: 20
Acquired via: 2016 fifth-round pick (No. 143)
Stats: 5 points in 21 SHL games; 4 points in 16 Allsvenskan games

From got some playing time in Sweden’s top league as a 20-year-old, which is a good sign, but he spent most of the season in the country’s second division. It doesn’t sound like he has a chance of signing with the Blackhawks this year.

D Jakub Galvas
Age: 18
Acquired via: 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 150)
Stats: 13 points in 42 Czech Extraliga games

Galvas might be one of the most intriguing prospects in the farm system. The Blackhawks took a flier on him in the fifth round after he spent most of his age 17 season in the top Czech league, and he followed it up with an even better age 18 season. Galvas recorded 13 points in 42 games with HC Olomouc and appeared for the Czech Republic at the 2018 World Juniors, where he recorded one goal in three games.

The defenseman still appears far away from the NHL, but he doesn’t even turn 19 until mid-June.

F Artur Kayumov
Age: 20
Acquired via: 2016 second-round pick (No. 50)
Stats: 3 points in 20 KHL games; 1 point in 4 MHL games

The development of Kayumov, one of the few Hawks prospects with offensive upside, has been frustrating since he was drafted with the 50th overall pick in 2016. Injuries have limited his playing time in Russia, where he’s bounced between three different leagues. When he’s gotten on the ice, he hasn’t put up big numbers.

But even with those hiccups in his progress, Kayumov remains one of the Blackhawks’ top prospects because of his abilities. The 20-year-old is one of the best skaters in the farm system and can use that to create playmaking opportunities. At World Juniors, he recorded five points in five games for Russia.

Kayumov is signed in the KHL through 2019-20, per The Athletic, so there’s no chance of him signing with the Hawks before the spring of 2020. The team won’t lose his rights as long as he continues playing in Russia as a result of the lack of a proper transfer agreement with the NHL.

D Roope Laavainen
Age: 19
Acquired via: 2017 fourth-round pick (No. 119)
Stats: 4 points in 39 Liiga games, 2 points in 15 Mestis games

The third defenseman drafted by the Hawks in 2017 after Jokiharju and Mitchell, Laavainen split the season between the top two divisions in Finland. The 19-year-old brings good size (6-2, 200 pounds) and was named to the Finnish selection camp prior to 2018 World Juniors. He ended up missing out on a roster spot, but it’s encouraging that he was one of nine blue liners deemed good enough to warrant final consideration.

G Ivan Nalimov
Age: 23
Acquired via: 2014 sixth-round pick (No. 179)
Stats: .938 save percentage in 23 KHL games

Nalimov is firmly back on the radar for the Blackhawks after a breakout 2017-18 season where he posted a dominant .938 save percentage in 23 KHL games. He can’t come over to North America for at least another year given he’s under contract in Russia but there’s a good chance the Hawks try to sign him in 2019 to see whether he can make it in the NHL.

There’s always been a lot to like about Nalimov in terms of tools, including a 6-4, 209-pound frame, but this was the first season where he really put it together for an extended stretch. Yes, he stumbled in the KHL playoffs, and yes, he’s still a total wild card, but there’s at least some possibility that he’s playing goalie in Chicago in the future.

D Andreas Soderberg

Age: 21
Acquired via: 2014 fifth-round pick (No. 148)
Stats: 11 points in 40 Allsvenskan games

Soderberg, a big-bodied defenseman (6-4, 205), is rarely discussed among Hawks prospects. He hasn’t gotten out of Sweden’s second division even though he turns 22 in June. Time is running out for him to show he’s still an NHL prospect.

F Tim Soderlund
Age: 20
Acquired via: 2017 fourth-round pick (No. 112)
Stats: 14 points in 43 SHL games

Anytime people start comparing you to Viktor Arvidsson, that’s going to turn heads. Soderlund is a long shot to reach those kind of heights considering Arvidsson recorded 60 goals over the past two seasons, but he’s already looking like a good pick as a fourth-rounder. The winger spent this season holding his own in Sweden’s top league and played well for the national team at 2018 World Juniors.

When Arvidsson was 19, he put up 12 points in 49 games with Skellefteå AIK, the same team Soderlund is on now. Soderlund turned 20 in late January, so he’s three months older than Arvidsson was at the time, but the production has been similar. A year later, Arvidsson recorded 40 points in 50 games, then signed an NHL deal.

In an ideal world, Soderlund follows a similar path over the next year and beyond. A more likely outcome is probably a good third-liner, though, which would still be nice for the Hawks.

Joni Tuulola
Age: 22
Acquired via: 2015 sixth-round pick (No. 181)
Stats: 30 points in 58 Liiga games

The Blackhawks recently signed Tuulola to a two-year ELC, so he’s set to start the 2018-19 season in Rockford. The offensive defenseman is coming off a very solid year in Liiga, where he put up 30 points in 58 games, and could become NHL depth in the future.