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New Jersey Devils European League Round-Up: Week 16

A recap of the Lockout Action from the Devils Abroad!

Al Bello

While the lockout isn't "officially" over, many of the players who chose to play overseas have returned to their respective teams. KHL players Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin have returned to their respective NHL cities. Tyler Seguin, who played in the Czech Republic, has returned to Boston. The Devils who returned from abroad consist of Artur Gavrus, Anton Volchenkov, and Vladimir Zharkov. However, Ilya Kovalchuk is staying in Russia, for now. Over at Puck Daddy, Greg Wyshynski breaks down the situation with Kovalchuk. Basically, Kovalchuk wants to stay in Russia to finish out the season. The KHL website reported yesterday that both Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk will be playing in the KHL All-Star game on Sunday.

Since this is the last week of NHL players in Europe, I thought I would sum up how the New Jersey Devils players fared in Europe. Over the whole lockout, six Devils played abroad. The most successful player, by a mile, was Kovalchuk. Kovy put up 18 goals and 41 points through 35 games. Therefore, when Kovalchuk comes back after the KHL All-Star game, he will be in mid-season-goal scoring form. The other two Devils in the KHL were Zharkov and Volchenkov. Volchenkov managed to fracture his ankle in October, but it is fully healed and he has played a few games and even picked up an assist in his last game abroad. On the other hand, Zharkov played a bottom six forward role and played at that level.

Player League Team GP G A P PIM +/-
Ilya Kovalchuk KHL SKA St. Petersburg 35 18 23 41 12 21
Marek Zidlicky Czech Extraliga HC Kladno 25 3 22 25 28 14
Artur Gavrus Belarus HC Neman 15 5 7 12 0 10
Artur Gavrus IIHF Belarus U-20 5 5 5 10 4 7
Vladimir Zharkov KHL CSKA Moscow 35 7 2 9 4 4
David Clarkson Bundesliga EC Red Bull Salzburg 5 2 1 3 18 -1
Anton Volchenkov KHL Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 11 0 1 1 16 -1

Zidlicky played in the Czech Extraliga and benefitted from playing on the blue line for a team stacked with Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec. Zidlicky had a splendid season, where he scored at a point per game level through 25 games.

Another Devil, Artur Gavrus, had a great time abroad. Gavrus played 15 games for HC Neman and then named the best forward of the IIHF U-20 World Championship while playing for the Belarus National team. I wouldn't be surprised if Gavrus got a good look in training camp after this performance. However, I doubt he'll make the team out of training camp, even with the Devils' weak offensive prospects.

Overall, I would say that all of the Devils who played abroad benefitted by staying fit and getting in some playing time with high level players in Europe. Thanks for sticking around and reading the European League Round-Up through sixteen weeks of no NHL action. Let's hope the Devils who played in Europe are ready to buckle down and fight through a shortened season.