BY JEFF ANGUS
Jeff Angus (@anguscertified) has been on quite the tour around Europe providing incredible insight. He is back for one more today!
Germany is the last stop on our European hockey preview. I hope that my posts have given you some insights into the teams that play in the top leagues across Europe. It may not be NHL hockey, but the quality is quite high, and it still involves skilled athletes chasing a piece of rubber around on frozen water.
Previous European League Previews:
The top league in Germany is known as the DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga). It was founded almost 20 years ago in 1994. Outside of North American leagues, the DEL has the highest percentage of North American hockey players of any professional hockey league in Europe.
There are 14 teams in the DEL, playing in cities all across the country. The top 10 teams qualify for the postseason. During the lockout of 2004-05, over 25 NHL players came over to play in the DEL.
Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere are joining Eisbaren Berlin this week. Eisbaren has captured the league title six times since 2005 (including last season), and adding players like Giroux and Briere will surely give them a great shot at consecutive championships.
Currently third in the league, the Panther have nine North Americans on their roster (but likely none that you have heard of). They have never won a league title, although they did lose in the final in 2009-10.
The Berlin squad is owned by AEG, the same company that owns the LA Kings and the Staples Center. During the last lockout, Olaf Kolzig and Erik Cole were signed to contracts, so bringing over NHL talent is nothing new for the Polar Bears. They should once again be among the league’s strongest clubs.
The Metro Stars have been runners up twice since 2006, but haven’t won the league title since 1996. Their current roster is very international – there are 10 non-German players on the team (although no NHL stars or former stars). They are a bottom-feeder in the DEL right now, and that isn’t expected to change any time soon.
The Freezers have several former NHL players on their roster, and landed a big fish during the lockout with the signing of Dallas star Jamie Benn. Benn joins the likes of Brandon Reid, Matt Pettinger, Duvie Westcott, and former Ottawa defenseman Christoph Schubert. At a 13-to-1 value to capture the DEL league title, Hamburg may be a good value pick if the lockout drags on for the entire season. Benn is up there with Giroux as the best player in the DEL.
The 2009-10 league champions don’t have a star-studded roster, and they are looking to get back to the postseason after failing to qualify last season. They are in 11th right now in the league and will have their work cut out for them if NHL players continue to sign with rival teams.
Former NHL journeyman Tyler Bouck is team captain, and he leads a team that has made the playoffs in three straight seasons. They are a middle-of-the-pack team in the DEL and will fight hard for a fourth-straight postseason appearance.
One of the best team names in all of hockey, the Roosters are another club near the bottom of the table in the DEL. Sebastian Caron is their goaltender, and he had a few stints in the NHL, most notably in Pittsburgh. Winger Mark Bell is on the roster – at one time he was a member of one of the NHL’s most exciting young lines in Chicago along with Kyle Calder and Tyler Arnason (the short-lived ‘ABC’ line). Another name you likely haven’t heard in a while – Mike York – this is York’s second season with the team. The Roosters are valued at 30-to-1 to win the DEL title – good value if they can find a way to sneak into the postseason.
The Cologne Sharks are currently at the top of the DEL standings. They have made the playoffs for three straight years, and are a great value at 14-to-1 to win the league. The season is only a few weeks old, but they are looking very good so far.
Christian Ehrhoff has joined the Penguins for the duration of the lockout, and he should help them get back to the postseason after they failed to qualify last year. Currently ninth in the DEL standings, the Penguins are the biggest underdogs to capture the league title at 45-to-1.
Dennis Seidenberg and Marcel Goc have signed with Mannheim for the lockout. Currently second place in the league, their roster is one of the deepest and most talented in the DEL. Former Canadian World Junior star Shawn Belle skates for Mannheim as well. They lost in the final last year, and should be a favorite to get back there with their lockout improvements.
Not much is expected from Munchen this year – they were promoted from the second tier league two years ago, and have been one of the weaker DEL teams in that time.
Yan Stastny (brother of Paul), Marc Chouinard (former Canuck and Wild center), and Steve Reinprecht are all on the Ice Tigers roster. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, but are currently holding down a playoff position through the first few weeks of the season. At 18-to-1 to win the DEL this season, Nurnberg represents a solid value pick.
The Tigers lost in the semi-finals last season after three straight years of missing the postseason. Their roster is average compared to many of the other DEL teams, but they should be in the mix for one of the final spots for the playoffs this year.
The Grizzly Adams team (yes, that is their team name) has qualified for the postseason for four consecutive years. At 10-to-1 to capture the league title, they aren’t a great value pick for this season with so many of their competitors stocking up on NHL talent.