WIIM Radio Special Edition: Michelle talks European prospects with Patrik Bexell

As you already know if you listened to WiiM Radio this week, I had the great pleasure of talking to Patrik Bexell A.K.A Zeb over at Habs Eyes On The Prize this week about the Red Wings European prospects. We could only fit a small portion of our chat into the podcast but we covered so many interesting, informative, and funny things, that I didn't want you to miss out.

So this week we have a bonus Prospect Report that covers:

  • In depth discussion about Axel Holmstrom and Christoffer Ehn, what kind of players they are, what roles they have on their teams, how they're developing and growing, and how Axel Holmstrom is an extremely lovable guy.
  • How the SHL and European Leagues compare to North American development leagues. Are the European leagues better at developing NHL ready prospects than Canadian Juniors and what some of the advantages are to letting kids develop in a men's league across the pond.
  • Will we see NHL teams utilize European leagues more in the future the way they currently use their AHL teams, sending excess players to Europe instead of the AHL?
  • And more!

If you're interested in reading more about the European leagues, their rankings, and some of the benefits of prospects developing in them, Patrik mentioned a couple articles you can check out in full.

Rob Vollman updates his translation factors for the different leagues regularly, using his method outlined in Hockey Abstract. You can see his most recent translation factors from various leagues to the NHL here. Patrik also wrote an in depth ranking of the European leagues that can be found here, and proposes that the NHL would be wise to use the SHL more as a development league. There's also an interesting article at Canucks Army that explores the idea that perhaps players in the SHL and Allsvenskan (the Swedish Second Division hockey) are better prepared for the NHL because it's a men's league.

The idea of more NHL teams using European leagues to develop their prospects is really interesting because there are certainly advantages to playing older more experienced players as a kid and learning to play a "men's" game. It was big news this year when potential 1st overall pick in 2016 Auston Matthews decided to go play in the Swiss league this year instead of playing college hockey or Juniors. We may see more players take this route in the future.

What do you think? Should NHL teams use European leagues for more prospect development? How much do you already love Axel Holmstrom? Let us know what you think of this special rinkside chat, and if you have any questions, Patrik will be around to drop more knowledge.