The Top 20 NHL Player Performances Overseas

Brad KurtzbergContributor IDecember 3, 2012

The Top 20 NHL Player Performances Overseas

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    Even though the NHL remains on hold during the lockout, almost 200 players under contract to NHL teams are presently playing hockey in various leagues throughout Europe.

    From stars like Joe Thornton and Jaromir Jagr to lesser known players like Dale Weise and Craig Smith, players are keeping in shape and earning at least some money until a settlement can be reached that will return the NHL to action.

    Here is a look at the top 20 performances by players under contract to NHL teams in Europe so far this season. Hopefully, this list will be unnecessary before too long. But for now, here's a taste of the best players in the world playing in some other leagues.

20. Anze Kopitar

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    Here's a very pretty goal by the Kings Anze Kopitar, who is now playing for Mora of the Swedish Elite League.

    In 20 games, Kopitar has eight goals and 22 points including this highlight reel goal that can only be described as "Forsbergesque."

19. Dustin Jeffrey

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    Pittsburgh's Dustin Jeffrey hasn't established himself as an every day NHL player yet, having never appeared in more than 26 games in a season.

    This year, however, while playing for Medvescak Zagreb in Austria, Jeffrey has been on fire with 11 goals and 22 points in 16 games.

    Two of his goals start at about the one minute mark of this video.

18. Pavel Datsyuk

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    Red Wings fans can't watch Pavel Datsyuk every day, but he's still working his magic back home in Russia.

    Here is a pretty goal by Datsyuk in the KHL, where he has six goals and 23 points in 19 games for  CSKA Moskva.

    It's clear to see Datsyuk still has his skills.

17. Vladimir Tarasenko

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    This was supposed to be the year Vladimir Tarasenko came to St. Louis and helped the Blues upgrade their offense.

    Because of the lockout, Tarasenko stayed in his native Russia and continues to play well in the KHL. Here's a nice goal by the Blues' prospect who has 10 goals and 23 points in 17 games with SKA St. Petersburg.

16. Raphael Diaz

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    Canadiens defenseman Raphael Diaz played his first NHL season last year after playing eight productive seasons in his native Switzerland.

    With the players locked out, Diaz returned to his Swiss club, Zug, and has seven goals and 26 points in 24 games.

    Here is his first goal of the season for Zug which showcases some of his skills.

15. Logan Couture

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    Logan Couture has had back-to-back 30 goal seasons for the San Jose Sharks.

    During the lockout, the London, Ontario, native headed to Switzerland to play for Geneve-Servette. He scored seven goals and 23 points in 22 games before leaving for "personal reasons" a few days ago.

    Here's a shorthanded goal by Couture that shows he still has his scoring touch.

14. Jesse Joensuu

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    Jesse Joensuu has yet to establish himself as a star in the NHL, splitting his time between the Islanders and their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

    Last year, the big native of Finland headed back to Europe rather than spend another season in the AHL and landed in the Swedish Elite League.

    Joensuu was scheduled to return to Long Island this fall, but the lockout changed those plans and he returned to his Finnish team, Assat Pori.

    He has already scored 11 goals and 24 points in 20 games, making him one of the most productive NHL players now skating in Europe.

13. Marek Zdlicky

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    Defenseman Marek Zidlicky helped the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final last spring.

    With the players locked out, the 35-year-old Czech native returned home to play for Kladno. He has been an excellent passer there, scoring three goals and 22 assists in 24 games.

    Here he helps set up a goal by Pavel Patera for Kladno. There are plenty of familiar names for NHL fans to watch in this clip.

12. John Tavares

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    Islanders center John Tavares joined teammate Mark Streit in his native Switzerland during the lockout, signing with Bern.

    Tavares has lit up the Swiss League, scoring 11 goals and 28 points in just 18 games.

    Here is Tavares' first goal with Bern which came on a tip from in close.

11. Henrik Zetterberg

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    Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg headed to Switzerland for the lockout and has played well for Zug.

    The 32-year-old Swede has been dominant, scoring 12 goals and 25 points in just 15 games.

    This is his first goal in Switzerland. Zetterberg's still enthusiastic, but man, look at those uniforms!

10. Daniel Briere

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    The Flyers Daniel Briere headed for Germany during the lockout to play in Berlin.

    Briere is off to a torrid start with five goals and 23 points in 14 games.

    Included in those numbers is a hat trick which is shown here in this clip. It's clear Briere still has his scoring touch.

9. Jiri Tlusty

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    Czech native Jiri Tlusty scored 17 goals in 79 games for the Hurricanes a year ago but already has 10 goals and 20 points playing for Kladno in his native land.

    Tlusty played for Kladno in 2005-06 before coming to North America and with the lockout on, he has returned.

    He is playing a much greater offensive role in the Czech League, as seen here with this goal he scored against Vikovice.

8. Ilya Kovalchuk

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    Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the NHL. He already has five NHL seasons with 40 or more goals scored and has won the Rocket Richard Trophy after leading the NHL in goals scored in 2003-04.

    It should come as no surprise that the Russian sniper would play in the KHL during the lockout and it should come as little surprise that he is scoring plenty of goals for St. Petersburg. Kovalchuk has scored 12 goals and 30 points in 24 games including his first KHL hat trick which is shown on this video.

7. Jan Mursak

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    Speedy Red Wings forward Jan Mursak was expected to become a regular in the NHL this year, but the lockout put those plans on hold.

    Instead, the 24-year-old Slovenian is playing in Austria where he is using his speed to his advantage in the larger European rinks.

    In 20 games with Olimpija Ljubljana, Mursak has scored 11 goals and 35 points.

6. Patrik Berglund

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    Blues forward Patrik Berglund returned to his native Sweden during the lockout and has been playing well.

    He has 16 goals in just 21 games for Vasteras and has 25 total points.

    Here is a goal Berglund scored which shows he is ready to play once the NHL finally gets under way.

5. Damien Brunner

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    The Red Wings own Damien Brunner's NHL rights although he has yet to play in an NHL game.

    During the lockout, the 26-year-old is playing for Zug in Switzerland and has more points so far than any other NHL player or prospect playing in Europe.

    Brunner has 18 goals and 41 points in 24 games including this goal that shows just what this relative unknown is capable of.

4. Tomas Plekanec

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    The Montreal Canadiens have to be pleased with the way center Tomas Plekanec is playing for Kladno of the Czech League.

    Plekanec has 18 goals and 37 points in just 24 games which lands him in the top five among NHL players now playing in Europe.

    Here's an example of what Plekanec has been up to for Kladno and there's a lot more where this came from.

3. Jaromir Jagr

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    Jaromir Jagr may be 40, but the future Hall of Famer has showed he can still play at a pretty high level even at this stage of his career.

    The Dallas Stars are awaiting Jagr's arrival after the lockout but until then, he is starring for Kladno, his hometown team in the Czech League.

    As usual, Jagr is doing well, scoring 16 goals and 38 points in 23 games including a hat trick that is featured in this clip.

2. Tyler Seguin

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    Boston's Tyler Seguin nearly scored 30 goals for the Bruins last year and more than tripled his point total to 67 in 2011-12.

    This year with Biel of the Swiss League, Seguin has been on fire. He has 22 goals and 35 points in 23 games, nearly a goal-per-game pace.

    Here are highlights of his hat trick for Biel which has to make Boston fans even more eager for the lockout to end.

1. Evgeni Malkin

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    Many people consider Evgeni Malkin the best hockey player in the world and he shows why, in this pretty goal he scored for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL.

    The Penguins star has 11 goals and 33 points in 26 games playing for his hometown team and he shows he can make it look easy in any league.