5 Biggest Surprises Among NHLers Playing Overseas

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent INovember 15, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 29:  Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Philadelphia Flyers in action against the New Jersey Devils in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on April 29, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Devils 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

There have been quite a few NHL players deciding to join overseas leagues over the last few days as the lockout continues to deprive fans of the best hockey in the world.

For some of the players who are already overseas, success hasn't been easy to achieve. Playing in a country and league that is unfamiliar can be difficult for many players, regardless of how much NHL experience they have.

Let's look at five players who are playing really well, as well as those struggling to be productive overseas.


Evander Kane

The Winnipeg Jets' forward had his finest NHL season during 2011-12, but he hasn't been able to achieve similar success in the KHL during the lockout.

Kane has just one goal and no assists in 11 games for Minsk Dynamo, and already has 47 PIM after having just 53 PIM in 74 games for the Jets last year.

Jets fans shouldn't be worried about Kane, who is one of the best young forwards in the NHL. Playing overseas is a difficult adjustment for a lot of young players, and it's certainly an environment that Kane isn't used to.

When the work stoppage ends and Kane returns to Winnipeg, he will begin the six-year, $31.5 million contract he signed in September.


Ondrej Pavelec

The Winnipeg Jets' goaltender is good young player and set a career-high with 29 wins last season, but he currently has a disappointing 4-10 record in 14 games for Czech Republic team Liberec Bili Tygri HC.

Pavelec has a .896 save percentage and a 3.50 GAA thus far, which are both worse than his numbers for the Jets in those categories last year.

The Jets need a better effort from Pavelec on the road this season to make the playoffs from the Southeast Division.

Pavelec's performance overseas might worry some Jets fans, especially after he signed a five-year, $19.5 million contract in the summer.


Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux dominating in any league isn't a shock, but having 15 assists in just eight games is a bit surprising.

The Philadelphia Flyers' superstar center has been incredibly productive offensively for the Berlin Polar Bears of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (Germany) this season, with four goals and 15 assists for 19 points in eight games.

If he played a full season in Berlin, Giroux might be able to average two points per game.

Giroux will be expected to be a point-per-game player whenever the 2012-13 NHL season begins, and it appears that he's already in fine form.


Ilya Bryzgalov

Hearing that the Philadelphia Flyers' goaltender is struggling might not be a surprise to some fans, but when you consider that the 32-year-old veteran does have a ton of talent, his 2-4 record and .892 GAA overseas is a bit disappointing.

Bryzgalov has only played in six games this year for KHL team CSKA Moscow, and since he's used to playing in Russia, many people figured he would perform much better overseas during the lockout than he did in his first season with the Flyers.

The last thing that the Flyers need is for Bryzgalov's poor performances to continue, which may cause him to return to the NHL with even less confidence than he had before going overseas.


Semyon Varlamov

Colorado Avalanche fans will be happy to learn that Semyon Varlamov is leading Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and the entire KHL with a .948 save percentage. He also ranks third in GAA (1.75).

Varlamov has a record of 5-2 in 10 games, including two shutouts.

For the Avalanche to take the next step and make the playoffs next season, they need Varlamov to improve on his 26-24-3 record from a year ago.

Varlamov has the talent needed to be quality No. 1 goaltender in the NHL, and just needs to be more consistent for the Avalanche to succeed in a stronger Northwest Division.



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