When we last checked in on the Hungarian prospects bidding to become their country's first NHL player, the possibility of any one of them making it to the show seemed remote. But one of those prospects was closer than most:
Dániel Koger, a 6'2" 195 lb left wing, left Székesfehérvár of the Austrian League for the Laredo Bucks of the CHL last season. He scored 29 goals and added 23 assists for 52 points, which might not seem that impressive because it's the CHL, but consider that Koger was the highest-scoring 20-year-old in the CHL over the last five seasons. He was the highest-scoring 21-and-under player in the CHL over the last two seasons. His performance earned him a deal with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. He's got NHL size and by doesn't lack skating ability, so a strong year in Cincinnati might cause the Rochester Americans or Florida Panthers to take notice.
It didn't take a year for the AHL to take notice, in fact, it took about two months. After only 12 games in the ECHL, Koger's phone rang - he was asked to take the next step. Fitting that the request came from a new team attached to a new organization.
As so often happens in the minors, Koger's big break came because of injuries and call-ups.
The St. John’s IceCaps today announced they have signed forward Daniel Koger to a professional tryout contract.
The IceCaps, the AHL affiliate to the Winnipeg Jets were short-handed after the Jets called upon Jason Jaffray and Carl Klingberg to fill out the NHL roster. Their solution was a call to the ECHL's only Hungarian, Koger.
|2011 - Dániel Koger - Cincinnati Cyclones||12||5||6||11||+8||8||30||2.5|
Koger scored 5 times in his 12 games in the ECHL and added 6 assists for a total of 11 points. He tallied 30 shots on goal in those 12 games. Koger was second in points per game for Cincinnati behind Anthony Luciani who also landed a PTO from the San Antonio Rampage, the Florida Panthers' AHL affiliate.
He's been held scoreless in 3 games thus far, but the man from Transdanubia now has 22 more games (unless he's released early from his contract) to prove he belongs in the AHL and bring Hungary one step closer to celebrating their first NHL player.