NHL Prediction: 4 Players Most Likely to Play Overseas If Games Are Cancelled
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With the NHL lockout underway, this country is about to see a mass exodus of players for different hockey leagues overseas.
The National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) and NHL owners have different opinions towards coming up with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). It also doesn't look like they are anywhere close to being able to come up with any kind of deal.
Quite a few players have already booked their tickets to play in other countries.
So who will be next to sit through a long flight and play in a different country?
Here's a look at four players that are most likely going to be playing overseas this season.
Maybe Giroux's new team will have orange and black too? Okay probably not
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Claude Giroux was one of the most exciting players in the NHL last season.
He finished third in points and second in assists as he became a household name among hockey fans.
That household name just might be moving.
Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy, wrote a story on Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov, and his interview with Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sports—a Russian sports website. He didn't give any hints on where Giroux may end up going, but he did cross Russia off of the list:
"Claude says 'I have one friend who played in Russia. But he was kicked out from the club without paying. Hockey players in the KHL are absolutely unprotected.' Canadians listened to different stories about our country from their friends. And it is difficult for me to argue because I have never been in these types of situations."
While it doesn't look like the KHL will be using this quote as a slogan, it's important in eliminating one of Giroux's potential landing spots.
It'll be interesting to see how his plans develop and to see where he will end up going.
Erik Karlsson could be heading home to Sweden
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It looks like the NHL's Swedish sensation, Erik Karlsson, could be leaving the US and playing back in his home country this season.
The absence of an NHL season would certainly cause fans to miss out on his impressive numbers.
Karlsson led all defensemen in points last year with 78. The next highest player on the list is Dustin Byfuglien with 53 points.
To put it bluntly, the man is a straight stat stuffer.
After attending multiple NHLPA meetings about the lockout, it looks as though Karlsson is ready to take his game overseas for a season if it comes to that.
[Karlsson] confirmed to the Sun he is considering playing in Sweden, but he’s in no hurry to head overseas because he wants to see what transpires here first.
Hopefully playing in Sweden won't hinder the 22-year-old's development because the man has a rink full of potential (please excuse the bad pun, it just had to be put in there).
Losing a year of NHL development is certainly not ideal, but playing somewhere beats not playing at all.
Martin St. Louis
If it looks like St. Louis is a little older than the other guys on this list, then it's probably because he is
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It's no secret. Our bodies tend to break down as we age.
It's a sad reality that comes with every sport.
The last few years of a player's career are always tough to swallow and it has to be especially tough on Martin St. Louis.
St. Louis has to wonder if one of those years will be spent without hockey during the lockout. This mindset makes him a lock to join a team overseas.
"With my age, you want to keep playing," he said Monday. "I don't want to take a year off. If the NHL wants to shut us down, we'll go play somewhere else."
If this lockout ends up being similar to the 2004-2005 one, then expect to see St. Louis leaving the States to play in Europe.
It is the smartest option for him to take.
Could playing overseas for a year reinvigorate Alexander Ovechkin's career?
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This could sound crazy, but a season-long NHL lockout could save Alexander Ovechkin's career.
Bear with me for a second.
When I say his career, I don't mean that he is close to being out of the league. I mean that it could save his place among the NHL's elite.
It could create an opportunity for his name to be back into the running as the best player in the world.
Ovechkin has seen his numbers decline each of the last four seasons and last year's 65-point season couldn't have been encouraging.
He still has the same incredible skillset that he's always had, and at just 27 years old, he should be on his way to hitting the prime of his career right?
Unfortunately, that's not the case and it looks like he is stuck in what appears to be a rough slump.
Playing in Russia for a year could turn that around.
Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy writer, Dmitry Chesnokov, wrote an article about Ovechkin's plans for a lockout riddled year. He says that Ovechkin "exclusively told Pavel Lysenkov and Sovietsky Sport" that:
If the League [NHL] continues to insist on their [demands], then it will take a full year. That's because we are not going to cave in. Then I will spend the entire season in the KHL. It's an absolute reality.
It's an extreme concept, but playing overseas could be the best thing for Ovechkin.
It would be difficult to see one of the NHL's best never get back to his old form and mixing up countries just might do the trick.