Overseas bargain huntin'
Raise your hand if, prior to last season, you saw Niklas Backstrom, Fredrik Norrena or Johnny Oduya playing a major role in the NHL.
Mine's not up either.
But Backstrom and Norrena head into this season as the starters in Minnesota and Columbus, and Oduya is due to receive big minutes on a Rafalski-less Devils blue line. And if you look around the league, there are plenty of examples of former European league standouts succeeding in the NHL.
The truth is, it's incredibly difficult to know exactly how these veterans coming over to NHL camps will fare, as we really don't have a clue how their game will translate among the world's best. Last year, those three all performed admirably, and given their bargain-basement contracts, they paid off for their teams.
So, then, who might be airlifted in from Europe this season to surprise? Here's a look at my Top 5 candidates at Fanhouse, along with a few honourable mentions.
Consider this an early version of 'The best players you've never heard of' series.