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The value of European prospects

Updated: December 22, 2010, 1:34 PM ET
By Alvin Chang

In the last four seasons, the Buffalo Sabres have drafted 20 Canadians, 11 Americans -- and that's it. They've avoided Europeans completely.

It's because it's harder to keep track of international prospects. And because of that, it's a bigger risk to take a foreigner -- especially when comparable North American prospects are available.

But is it worth the risk? Here's a subtle hint: It is.

Now, one way to lessen the risk is to have more people keeping track of these prospects. But that takes more than just a financial investment. When scouting the colder parts of Europe, it's also about sheer commitment. In evaluating the vaunted Red Wings' scouting department ESPN The Magazine's Lindsay Berra previously wrote, "Scouts must be patient, thorough and willing to endure the coldest, most mind-numbing games to the end, lest a player distinguish himself a split-second before the final buzzer."

But that's what it takes to get an edge in the NHL draft.

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