There may not be an NHL right now, but there are still plenty of NHLers in action around the globe. Yes, even in Thailand, where Johnny Oduya found himself playing.
So this week’s top 10 looks at the highest scoring NHL talents in top European leagues. To qualify, a player had to have played in the NHL last season with the intention to return in 2012-13. So Alexander Radulov, who is among the Kontinental League’s leaders with 37 points in 29 games, does not appear since he signed a four-year pact in Russia. Nor do top prospects such as St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko who actually arrived in St. Louis in the spring, or Washington prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov, who may never come to the NHL.
T-10. Alex Ovechkin and Logan Couture – 23 points
Though Ovie has played one fewer game, we wanted to squeeze both on this list. Couture’s Geneve Servette is the best team in the Swiss League by eight points and the San Jose Shark leads his team with seven goals and 23 points in 21 games (and check out this nifty goal). Other noteworthy names on that team include Danny Fritsche, Rico Fata and Yannick Weber. Meanwhile, in Russia, Ovechkin returned to Moscow Dynamo, where he played before joining the Capitals. Alongside Washington teammate Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin has nine goals and 23 points in 20 games to lead the KHL’s second-best team.
9. Ales Hemsky – 24 points
The Edmonton Oilers playmaker headed home to play for Pardubice, but despite teaming up with Boston’s David Krejci, the team is struggling at eighth place overall. With 12 goals and 24 points in 20 games, Hemsky is already only one goal and seven points shy of the 47-game total he posted with the team during the last lockout in 2004-05.
8. Raphael Diaz – 24 points
Diaz had played eight seasons with EV Zug of the Swiss League before joining the Montreal Canadiens as a rookie in 2011-12. In his final year before leaving, the defenseman set a career high of 12 goals and 39 points in 45 games. Through 23 games this season, Diaz has six goals and 24 points to sit third in team scoring behind Damien Brunner and Linus Omark. Diaz is two points ahead of Henrik Zetterberg, though the Red Wings star has only played 14 games. Zug sits second in the Swiss League.
7. John Tavares – 25 points
Joining fellow Islander Mark Streit’s SC Bern squad, Tavares has racked up 10 goals and 25 points in 17 games to sit seventh in Swiss League scoring. He doesn’t lead his fifth-place team though – that honor goes to Hartford Whalers 1995 seventh round pick, Byron Ritchie, with 28 points in 24 games. (OK, so Ritchie has seven more games under his belt.)
6. Pavel Datsyuk – 26 points
The man with the magic hands chose CSKA Moscow over his hometown Ekaterinburg to team up with Alexander Radulov and Mikhail Grabovski to form the fourth-best Western Conference KHL team. While Radulov leads the team in scoring, Datsyuk trails by 12 points in eight fewer games, so the race is closer than it seems. Oh, and he’s still scoring unreal goals.
5. Ilya Kovalchuk – 29 points
The second-highest NHL scorer in the KHL and tied for fourth overall, Kovalchuk’s SKA St. Petersburg squad is the best in the league and has scored the most goals by far (109). Along with the Devils star, SKA is home to Vladimir Tarasenko (24 points in 20 games), Viktor Tikhonov (14 points in 18 games) and Sergei Bobrovsky in net (2.33 GAA, .919 SP).
4. Tyler Seguin – 32 points
With 20 goals in 21 games, Seguin has taken the Swiss League by storm. So it might be surprising to learn that, despite his output and the recent addition of Patrick Kane, EHC Biel is eighth-best in the 12-team circuit. Here is Seguin’s first hat trick in the league from last month.
3. Evgeni Malkin – 33 points
Formerly known as the best player not in the NHL, Malkin may very well have picked up that title again – meaning, yes, he may well be the best player on the planet today. Third in KHL scoring, Malkin has 11 goals and 33 points in 24 games, but he doesn’t even lead his team. Sergei Mozyakin has 41 points in 27 games, but we’ll assume that’s the Malkin effect, considering Mozyakin has already passed his point total from last year, in half the games.
2. Tomas Plekanec – 35 points
Second-placed Kladno was blessed to see the return of a slew of NHL players who played for the franchise once upon a time. Plekanec sits second in team scoring to the No. 1-ranked player on this list, but the Knights roster also includes the likes of Marek Zidlicky, Jiri Tlusty, Jan Hlavac and Tomas Kaberle. Plekanec is second in the Czech league with 17 goals.
1. Jaromir Jagr – 36 points
Not only does ‘Jammy’ own the team, he leads them in offense as well. With 15 goals and 36 points in 22 games, Jagr is the main attraction in Kladno and, really, across the entire Czech League. A legend in his own right, Jagr sits third in league scoring (with Plekanec directly behind him), though Kladno sits second in the league, five points out of top spot.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.