From Russia With Luke-Warm Affection and Interest

Matt Bugg

2007-02-17

It was the 2003-04 season. Brad Stuart led the Sharks in assists with 30, Jonathan Cheechoo had 47 points, and Alexander Korolyuk was 9th in team scoring. Two years later, and Joe Thornton had 90 assists, Cheechoo popped in his 47th goal, and Korolyuk… was in the RSL. Sharks property once again, we look at what this means for keeper league owners. Also, the Flyers partake in some Un-planned Parent-hood, and a mysterious Swedish prospect joins Markus Naslund, Peter Forsberg and Kenta Nilsson in the record books this week in Bugg Bytes. 30 year-old Alexander Korolyuk isn't exactly prospect material, but he bears mention this week simply because nobody else is talking about him. The winger, if you remember, was one of the first victims of the salary cap, tossed to New Jersey along with Jim Fahey for Vladimir Malakhov and a first round korolyukdraft choice on October 1st, 2006. It was a notable move then only because it marked the beginning of New Jersey's fight back from the edge of salary cap hell. So why is it a notable move now? Well, Korolyuk aside, the Devils acquired a 3rd round draft choice in this year's draft. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello might keep that pick, and select a player you'll want to keep your eyes on simply because Lou picked them. But more likely, the Devils stocking up for a deadline-day deal. A veteran blueliner or backup could be on the way.

As for Korolyuk? Comments by Sharks GM Doug Wilson confirm the idea that the former Shark is looking to make an NHL comeback. With an impressive 33-43-76 line in 84 RSL games for the substandard Chekhov Vityaz squad, the 5'9 checking line dynamo hasn't lost a step since losing an NHL job. With a career PPG rate of just under 0.50, the potential 20-20-40 production isn't all that enticing. But with a cadre of skill up front- lacking two seasons ago- and Korolyuk's ability to play on any line, hot streaks are inevitable. A stint on either Marleau or Thornton's wing could mean big numbers.

In the other big trade this week, the Nashville Predators acquired Peter Forsberg. Going back the other way were of course Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent and picks. Am I the only one who thinks Parent's acquisition has been completely underrated? The Flyers have had all kinds of practice digging pucks out of their own net this year. Parent's brilliant shutdown game will finely compliment the breakout stylings of future partner Joni Pitkanen. Think back to any of the most memorable defensive pairings you can remember- Niedermayer/Stevens, Savard/Robinson, Gord Smith and Bill Mikkelson circa 1974-75. One played defense, the other played… well, defense as well, plus they rushed the puck. Parent compares most favorably to one Rod Langway. While he won't do a whole lot of scoring on his own, the occasional residual points- plus a ridiculous plus/minus rating- are sure to make him an underrated keeper league pickup for years to come.

Also something else worth mention here: with the Flyers in the east, several annual matchups against Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are assured. While we've never seen Parent face Sid the Kid- the two were teammates when they did play on the same ice- the tough-as-nails rearguard did a beautiful job of minimizing the contributions of one Alexander the Gr8 in international play. While the NHL and World Juniors are ice rinks apart, Parent may prove to be a production-killer in weeks where the Flyers and Caps face off.

And since odds are good you skipped past everything above just to see who this record-breaking Swedish phenom is, I'll get right to it. A 7th round draft choice of the Predators in 2005, 5'11 winger Patric Hornqvist accomplished one of the rarest feats in the Swedish Elite League this past week, popping in his 20th goal of the campaign. Along with the