European hockey has taken on an NHL look. With an NHL lockout in place, more than 150 of the league's players have signed to play for European teams.
Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals' No. 1 overall draft pick in June, will remain in Russia this fall. Ovechkin is not yet under contract with the Capitals. Dainius Zubrus of the Capitals is playing in Russia, and Caps goaltending prospect Rastislav Stana is playing in Sweden.
Top players competing in Europe include Markus Naslund with Modo (Sweden), Jaromir Jagr with Kladno (Czech Republic) and Ilya Kovalchuk with AK Bars Kazan (Russia).
Most of the players have lockout clauses that allow them to return to the NHL if and when the labor impasse ends. For now, European teams are taking advantage of the situation.
Besides Naslund of the Vancouver Canucks, Modo also signed his teammates, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Niklas Sundstrom (Montreal), Pierre Hedin (Toronto) and Peter Forsberg (Colorado).
Forsberg has indicated he will play the entire season with Modo.
Only 17 Canadian players are headed to Europe, with many others preferring to compete in a four-on-four exhibition series in Ontario and Quebec.
The Czech league has signed 47 NHL players, among them: Tomas Kaberle of Toronto (Kladno), Martin Rucinsky of Vancouver (Litvinov), Ziggy Palffy of Los Angeles (Slavia Prague), Radek Bonk of Montreal (Trinec) and Patrick Elias of New Jersey (Znojemsti Orli).
The Russian league has 33 NHL players, including Andrei Markov of Montreal, Pavel Datsyuk of Detroit (Dynamo Moscow), Sergei Gonchar of Boston (Metallurg Magnitogorsk) and Garth Snow of the New York Islanders (SKA St. Petersburg.)
The Swedish league signed 30 players, while the Finnish and Slovakian leagues signed nine NHL players apiece. Joe Thornton of Boston and Rick Nash of Columbus headline the Swiss league, skating for Davos. Leagues in Austria, France, Italy and Germany also signed a few NHL players.
-- From News Services