Every franchise in the NHL has seen some of its players head overseas to play hockey while the lockout is on, and the Predators are no exception. While many Nashville players have stayed in the area or (if they’re a little younger) played in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals during the lockout, six have plied their trade in Europe this fall. Today we’ll look at three of the Nashville Predators playing overseas, including the last Pred to score 30 goals, one of its most promising young defenseman, and one of its leaders on the blue line.
LW Patric Hornqvist
Patric Hornqvist had intended to return to his home country of Sweden and play for Djurgårdens IF, the club with which he won the Elitserien’s rookie of the year award in 2005-06. Tax issues prevented that so he signed a one-month contract to play for HC Red Ice Martinach, a team in Switzerland’s second-tier hockey league. His numbers weren’t as gaudy as some other NHLers playing Europe, but his 14 points (7G-7A) in 9 games reflected his skill level.
At the end of October, worries about paying the king his kroner apparently behind him, Hornqvist said goodbye to Switzerland and headed back home to Sweden to play for his old club. He has 2 points (1G-1A) in 6 games so far. The team, which was relegated to the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan after a poor showing in the Elitserien last season, has picked up other North American-based talent during the lockout: Hornqvist joined the Colorado Avalanche’s Gabriel Landeskog and former Milwaukee Admirals goalie Chet Pickard on the Djurgårdens roster.
D Roman Josi
Like Hornqvist, Roman Josi opted to head back to both his former country and his former club. It was only two years ago that Josi left the Swiss Nationalliga’s SC Bern, his home for three seasons of pro hockey, to play for the Milwaukee Admirals.
This time around he’s teamed up with two members of the New York Islanders: young superstar forward John Tavares, and veteran defenseman (and Islanders/Swiss national team captain) Mark Streit. The team is currently sitting in 5th place with 49 points, just 5 points back from league leaders Genève-Servette HC after a 4-3 victory over that club on Tuesday. Josi opened the scoring for Bern in that game on an assist from Tavares, giving the Preds blueliner 10 points (6G-4A) in 16 games.
Here’s Josi in his first game back with SC Bern, scoring with that powerful slap shot we got a taste of in Nashville last season:
D Kevin Klein
The Herlev Eagles haven’t exactly been lighting it up this year in Denmark’s elite league. (They’re currently in 10th place in the 14-team league with 24 points in 20 games.) So it made sense for them to pick up an NHL player – and when Kevin Klein’s former Milwaukee teammate Kim Staal called him up, the Preds’ solid defenseman agreed to travel to the land of Vikings and butter cookies and play while waiting for the lockout to end.
In 7 games for the team so far Kleiner has posted a goal and an assist, but the eye-popper on the stat line is his whopping 27 PIMs. All of that time in the box appears to have come with just eight seconds left in the team’s recent 6-1 loss to Bulldogs Odense. If I’m reading this box score right, Kleiner picked up 2 minutes for slashing, 5 for roughing, and a 20-minute game misconduct all on the same play.
Read Part 2 of this series.