5 International Players Who Could Be in NHL Next Year
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There are a lot of good young international players who are playing overseas right now and several of them could make their way to the NHL next season.
Many of these players have been drafted by NHL teams over the last few years and will be expected to play a significant role in the future success of these clubs.
Let's take a look at five top international players who could finally make their NHL debuts in the 2013-14 season.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals
When the Capitals decided not to re-sign star winger Alexander Semin, they knew that former first-round pick Evgeny Kuznetsov would be ready to fill the void left by Semin's departure in just a year or two.
The talented Russian forward is now in his fourth season with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL and has scored 13 goals with 17 assists in 30 games this year.
Kuznetsov is only 20 years old, but after four seasons in the KHL, he should be ready for the NHL by 2013-14.
Kuznetsov has the ability to be a 35-plus goal scorer for a long time in the NHL. To take the next step in his hockey career, he needs join the Capitals in the near future.
In just a few years, the Capitals offense could be led by Kuznetsov, 2012 first-round pick Filip Forsberg and superstars Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin. That's an impressive foursome for Capitals fans to be excited about.
Joel Armia, Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres selected Finnish forward Joel Armia with the 16th pick in the 2011 Draft, and after playing well in Finland for two-plus seasons, he could certainly make his NHL debut next year.
Buffalo finished 17th in goal scoring last season and only Jason Pominville scored 30 or more goals. The Sabres need another winger with a skill set that features scoring, playmaking and speed. Armia can provide the team with these talents.
Armia is a highly skilled forward who will rack up a lot of points at the NHL level. There's no question that he is a tremendous offensive talent, but he needs to learn to play with more toughness and impact games with his size.
In 24 games for Assat Pori of SM-liiga this season, Armia has scored four goals to go with 14 assists.
Filip Forsberg, Washington Capitals
Passing on Filip Forsberg is something many teams will regret about the 2012 draft. The Washington Capitals were wise to not let him fall any further when they selected him 11th overall.
The Swedish forward has the complete package of strength, goal scoring and speed.
Forsberg's good defense and ability to impact games with his toughness and physical play make him a well-rounded player.
Many people had him as the No. 1-ranked European skater in June's draft. He has scored nine goals and 10 assists in 22 games for Leksand, which is a team in Swedish league Allsvenskan.
If he continues to play well in Sweden, the Capitals should bring him to the NHL next season.
Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild
There's a chance that Jonas Brodin could make the Minnesota Wild roster this season, but after breaking his collarbone in early November, the best decision for the team would be to let him stay in the AHL for the remainder of the season and compete for a spot in 2013-14.
Brodin is a talented Swedish defenseman who is very solid defensively and capable of logging a lot of minutes each game.
He played in eight games for the Houston Aeros before suffering the injury and scored two goals with two assists.
Prior to his arrival in the AHL, Brodin played 94 games in Sweden over the last three seasons for Farjestads BK Karlstad of the SEL.
The Wild's lack of top-tier defensemen should allow Brodin to easily earn a permanent roster spot for the 2013-14 season.
Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl was a tremendous selection at pick No. 17 in this year's draft because of his all-around offensive abilities and goal scoring talent.
He is in his third season with Czech Republic team Slavia Praha HC and has already scored as many goals as he did last season (12) in 10 fewer games.
Hertl should be a top-six center soon after he makes his NHL debut, which could certainly be during the 2013-14 season if he continues to play well offensively in the Czech Republic.
Notable prospects such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Mikael Granlund were omitted from this list because they will likely make their NHL debuts during the 2012-13 season, provided the lockout ends.
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