It's remarkable to see how the NHL has evolved over the years. What was once a game dominated by the veterans, is now a young man’s game. At one point, size was all the fuss in the league but that’s all changed with youth, speed and skills dominating the box scores on a nightly basis. Aside from a handful of players, the expectancy nowadays is near the 30-year old mark. A couple of years ago, this wouldn't have been the case as players would enter their prime around that age. Today, it seems like that has shifted with players peaking at the ages of 25 and 26.
Thankfully, for those who still have something left in the tank, there are alternatives. Playing overseas continues to trend upwards with plenty of players making the jump year after year. Whether it’s joining the KHL or the Swiss League, opportunities to make a living and to extend a career are, in fact, available aboard.
In this article, we’ll highlight 15 players that have made the jump overseas. The article will feature pictures of these players dawning their current uniforms. Red Wings fans will probably not love the number one entry, it’s a disturbing sight to see Pavel dawning a blue shirt and not the red we’ve grown to love him with.
With that said, let’s begin. Like always, be sure to share the article with a friend and let us know your thoughts on these players playing overseas. Enjoy!
15 Maxim Lapierre: HC Lugano – National League A
Drafted 61st overall by his hometown team, the Montreal agitator would managed to crack the roster as a checking line center. He managed to find success not only as a shutdown player, but as a goal scorer as well, putting up 15 goals in the 2008-2009 campaign. For Lapierre, that would be his peak as he’d bounce around the league following his Montreal stint, going from Anaheim to Vancouver to St. Louis, and his final stop with the Penguins.
He left the league at the beginning of the 15’-16’ campaign, inking a deal overseas with Modo of the Swedish Hockey League. His stint was brief with the team and he would join HC Lugano of the Swiss League shortly after. Following a brief failed PTO this season with the Rangers, the 31-year old headed back overseas with his Swiss team. His stats are decent thus far putting up 15 points in 26 games along with the expected 77 penalty minutes.
14 Martin Erat: Brno Kometa – Czech League
We can't forget how Martin Erat was absolutely lambasted during his final years in the NHL. He enjoyed a quiet career throughout putting up decent numbers with Nashville during his career. He was no longer flying under the radar when he was dealt over to Nashville in exchange for top of the line prospect, Filip Forsberg. The result of the deal was horrifying for both Erat and the Caps. The player scored two goals in 62 games. He was later shipped off to Arizona, where his North American career would come to an end.
With a lack of interest from NHL teams, the veteran took his talents over to Russia in September of 2015, inking a deal with the KHL team Avangard Omsk. He was once again on the move this season, heading back home to play in the Czech league with Brno Kometa. Martin’s on pace for a career year back at home notching 35 points in 36 games.
13 Viktor Fasth: CSKA Moscow – KHL
As an undrafted goalie, Viktor Fasth made his name be known overseas while playing in the Swedish league. The Ducks would take note of his play and sign the goaltender to a one year deal way back in May of 2012.
His North American career was brief and mostly spent as a backup for the Edmonton Oilers. He failed to earn a starters position in Oil country and chose to eventually take his talents back overseas, this time in the Russian League, the KHL. His numbers with CSKA Moscow are spectacular this year putting up a 15-2-2 record. His team is currently first in the Tarasov Division racking in an impressive 44 wins in 60 games thus far. At the age of 34, we can safely assume that the former NHL player will end his career overseas.
12 Alexander Semin: Metallurg Magnitogorsk – KHL
Semin leaving the NHL sounded laughable back in his rookie campaign when he scored 38 goals. He would continue to tear up the league the following four seasons putting up 26, 34, 40 and 28 goal campaigns consecutively. However, once he left the Caps, it all came crashing down for Alex and his North American experience.
He tanked with the Hurricanes and after a final attempt with the Habs, he took the wise route to head back home, joining Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. His decision instantly paid off as the team won the Gagarin Cup in 2016. Alex would re-sign with the club this season and is currently enjoying a career resurgence. At the age of 32, Semin has 16 goals along with 30 points in 58 games thus far this season.
11 Slava Voynov: SKA St. Petersburg – KHL
Slava Voynov was another NHL player we thought would be in the league for the long run. He was a stud for the LA Kings at the back, putting up stellar numbers for the team while logging plenty of ice-time. In October of 2014, his career would take a bizarre twist as charges of domestic violence were laid out, resulting in a suspension by the NHL. After going in and out of the court room, Slava chose to breach his contract and head back home to Russia joining the powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg.
At the age of 27, there’s no doubt Voynov would fit in back in the NHL. However, looking at his current success as one of the league’s best, the possibility of him coming back seems rather far=fetched. Slava has 37 points in 48 games for his star-studded team. The franchise is a powerhouse this season with the likes of Voynov, Datsyuk and Kovalchuk leading the way.
SKA St. Petersburg is first in the league at this point picking up an amazing 46 wins in 60 games. What makes that total all the more impressive is their goals against total, which is currently a plus 135. To put that total into perspective, that’s almost double the NHL league leaders, the Washington Capitals, who are a plus 69.
10 Nigel Dawes: Barys Astana – KHL
Looking at the history of players finding success overseas, Nigel Dawes certainly goes down as one of the biggest beneficiaries from the move. He flopped around everywhere in North America, struggling to find any type of stability. That finally changed in 2011 when he made the bold decision to leave the North American hockey scene to try his hand overseas.
The move paid off in more ways than one. Not only has he put up ridiculous numbers in the last six seasons, but he’s also now able to call Kazakhstan his home, aiding the team on the international scene as well. Dawes is once again lighting it up this season scoring 36 goals and notching 62 points in just 59 games. At the age of 32, Dawes is very content with his current situation and he’ll more than likely close of his career overseas with the KHL team.
9 Derek Roy: Traktor Chelyabinsk – KHL
Derek Roy was one of those players that quietly left the league back in 2015. He put up some fantastic numbers as a Buffalo Sabre but failed to find his way once he left the club. After a final season with the Oilers, Roy left for a career overseas. He found instant success in the 2015-2016 campaign, taking the Swiss League title home as a member of the Bern SC team. Roy was huge in his contributions putting up 30 points in 36 games during his short stint with the club.
He was once again on the move this offseason joining Omsk of the KHL. In November, he was traded from the team after partaking in just 21 games. He joined Traktor Chelyabinsk, his current team, and his numbers are subpar thus far picking up ten points in 34 games.
8 Ben Scrivens: HC Dinamo Minsk – KHL
Becoming a starting goalie in North America just wasn’t in the cards for Ben Scrivens. Throughout his NHL stint, he bounced around various teams as a backup and even joining the American Hockey League at various points. Nowadays, that’s all changed as he’s enjoying loads of ice time overseas as a member of the KHL’s HC Dinamo Minsk.
In 60 games total thus far this season, Scrivens has started 55 of them. His team is currently second just behind powerhouse SKA led by Datsyuk and company. With a plethora of experience, it’ll be interesting to see if an experienced goalie like Ben can stop the powered SKA team come playoff time.
Speaking of Scrivens and his HC Dinamo Minsk team, the next player on this list is actually a former NHL’er that plays alongside big Ben this season. Surely, the two shared some laughs about their days playing with the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. Without scrolling down, can you guess who that person is?
7 Sergei Kostitsyn: HC Dinamo Minsk – KHL
If you answered Sergei Kostitsyn, give yourself a pat on the back. The former Montreal Canadiens player is 29 years old, a huge prospect from his days with the London Knights, who would fail to reach his potential in the NHL. He had one noteworthy season with Nashville putting up 23 goals, but that’s where his puck luck stopped in North America.
He continued his journey in Russia during the ’13-’14 season signing on with Omsk. Sergei would play for four different teams within four years, signing a one-year deal each time. Nowadays, he’s on his forth different KHL team playing for the previously mentioned Dinamo Minsk. His goal scoring numbers have been nothing to write home about picking up five markers in 45 games.
6 Mark Arcobello: SC Bern – National League A
Going undrafted, Arcobello took the hard route into the league and that continued throughout his North American journey, going from team to team. His longest run with one team came early on in his career playing for the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. In terms of NHL involvement, he had a variety of brief stints which included runs with Edmonton, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Arizona and his final destination, Toronto.
In his final season, Mark was brilliant as a member of the Marlies scoring 25 goals and adding 59 points in 49 games. With his confidence sky high, Arcobello would proceed to sign a two-year deal abroad with SC Bern. He got off to a brilliant start scoring 44 seconds into his debut. He’s continued to carry the momentum netting 51 points in 47 games.
5 Linus Omark: Salavat Yulaev Ufa – KHL
Drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, the franchise had high expectations for the skilled forward who dazzled crowds with his excellent stick handling ability. Unfortunately, that would fail to translate on the big stage as Linus became a bust for both Edmonton and his final pit-stop in Buffalo.
After tanking in North America, Linus headed back overseas playing back home in Sweden. He also played in the KHL, a destination he previously played in back in the 2009-2010 season, when he joined Dynamo Moscow as a youngster. This time around, he would enjoy success with Helsinki, and then join Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Playing a season and a half with the team, Omark has found some big time success. He’s currently on pace for one his best years to date putting up 56 points in 55 games. At the age of 30, Linus still has lots to give overseas.
4 David Booth: Avangard Omsk – KHL
Alongside fellow NHL’er Derek Roy, the speedy Michigan native is making a living nowadays playing overseas in the KHL with Avangard Omsk. Booth had the tools to make it in the NHL and that was on full display during the 2008-2009 season when he put up 31 goals along with 60 points. Unfortunately, constant injuries would derail his NHL momentum and it would cost him a job in North America. After a brief KHL stint last season, Booth returned home with the hopes of coming back to the NHL. He underwent a PTO with the Ducks but failed to make the team out of camp.
In mid-November, the 32-year old would once again pack his belongings and head overseas. As of this writing, Booth has tallied a mere eight points in 19 games.
3 Sean Bergenheim: Frolunda HC – Swedish Hockey League
The 33-year old is still going strong showcasing his talents back in Sweden with Frolunda HC. His NHL days were decent, Sean wasn’t one for putting up great offensive numbers but instead, he was valued commodity for his defensive game. He enjoyed some stellar seasons until he called it a day from the North American leagues, leaving in the 2015-2016 season. He joined SC Bern of the Swiss league reuniting with current NHL coach Guy Boucher. Together, the duo won the Swiss championship. It led Boucher to a new coaching job with the Sens, while even Sean returned for a possible job in the league.
Bergenheim’s attempt wasn’t as successful as he failed his PTO with the Ducks. He would immediately head overseas joining his current team of Frolunda.
2 Ilya Kovalchuk: SKA St. Petersburg – KHL
Kovalchuk rocked the NHL back in the summer of 2013 when he announced his immediate retirement from the NHL. The star sniper left a 12-year, $77 million dollar contract on the table opting to go back home instead. It was later revealed that taxes played a big part in his decision to leave the game in North America.
What was our loss here in North America, was Russia’s gain as he has dominated the league since arriving. Now in his fourth season, Kovalchuk has put up his very best season with 78 points in 60 games. It also helps when you have a guy by the name of Pavel Datsyuk centering you, doesn’t it? The former New Jersey Devil is currently second in points, just behind the league leader Sergei Mozyakin who has 85 points.
1 Pavel Datsyuk: SKA St. Petersburg – KHL
After leaving the Motor City, Red Wings fans were saddened by the sudden departure of number 13. His former fellow teammate Henrik Zetterberg has been left to fend for himself. Despite Z putting the team on his back, it looks like that the Datsyuk-less Wings will fall short of a playoff berth this season potentially, ending their illustrious streak.
For Pav, he’s enjoying the game back home as he signed a two-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg. He’s dealt with nagging injury problems throughout the year, but his team remains dominant nonetheless and are regarded as the heavy favorites to win it all. As of this point, Pavel has racked in 34 points in 44 games.
Datsyuk recently welcomed a new member to his family as his wife gave birth to a boy in February, Pavel Jr.