SCOUT'S POSTCARD FROM...Ryan Jankowski
Happy Holidays from Europe!
As the Islanders Head European scout, I wanted to give all of you a peek inside the European scouting of the Isles. It is quite similar as our North American friends but when dealing with different cultures, languages and hockey systems it can make things a little more challenging for everyone.
We have four regional scouts who cover their country and are key members of the scouting staff. Anders Kallur, a long time Islanders scout and four-time Stanley Cup champion with our franchise is responsible for Sweden and his experience is invaluable to our scouting staff. Karel Pavlik is responsible for Czech Republic / Slovakia and has been a member of the Isles scouting staff for over 10 years. Former Finnish Elite league defenseman Vellu Kautonen is responsible for Finland and Sergei Radchenko is responsible for Russia.
They hunt through their region of Europe trying to uncover the best prospects and then report their findings to me. I travel around from country to country comparing the players from the different countries to each other.
In the last month, I have been at an Under 18 tournament in Seinajoki, Finland involving Finland, Sweden, USA and Switzerland, then over to an Under 20 tournament in Stupino, Russia which was a World Junior Championship preview involving Russia, Sweden, Finland and Sweden. After that it was a little bit of time back in Prague which is my home base during the winter months and I was able to check out some games in the Czech Elite and Junior leagues.
The end of November there was an nice opportunity to travel up to Finland to check out some of the Finnish Elite and Junior leagues and also a great opportunity to watch the Islanders and Flyers at 10pm in Finland -- an afternoon game in Philly. This is rare as most of the NHL games start at 1am in the center of Europe meaning the anticipation of seeing the Islander result is saved for the early morning when waking up and checking newyorkislanders.com!
After the trip to Finland it was a short flight into Sweden to check out the Junior and Elite leagues there. This trip was not without its troubles with the winter snow following me from Prague to Finland and then into Sweden, as well a broken-down car en route to a game in Gavle, Sweden made for some more scouting memories and making sure the person giving you the ride has had his car tuned up.
During these travels looking for the best draft eligible prospects we are also busy keeping tabs on the players already drafted, including our own prospects. With Robert Nilsson, Petteri Nokelainen and Evgeny Tunik already graduating from European hockey to pro hockey with the Islanders and Sound Tigers, it has lightened the load of Isles prospects in Europe but nonetheless we still have a few guys to keep tabs on this season.
Frans Nielsen has adjusted comfortably to his new team Timra in the Swedish Elite League. He has an important role on this team and sees lots of ice playing smart two-way hockey. Hopefully Frans will look to make another step to professional hockey in North America next season and start his life in the Islanders system. Igor Volkov has been on fire in Ufa, Russia. He has had a great 2-3 weeks, scoring 7 goals in the last 9 games. Igor has 12 goals and 8 assists in 32 games in the Russian Superleague. Sergei Ogorodnikov had a successful tournament in Canada with a touring Russian team and is going to be a part of the Russian exhibition squad leading up to the World Juniors in Vancouver in two weeks. Emil Axelsson is playing in Arboga in the Swedish Allsvenskan (one league below the Elite League)
Just wanted to say hi to everyone from Europe and let you know a little bit about our European scouting system. Happy Holidays to all, and Go Isles Go.
Prague, Czech Republic