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Number of European players in NHL at its lowest since 1998-99

The number of Europeans participating in NHL play is the lowest it has been in more than a decade.

According to a report released by the IIHF, Europeans account for just 23.7 percent (228 of 962 players) of the 962 players who played at least one game during the 2009-2010 season; an average of 7.6 European players per team.

Numbers have been steadily decreasing since the lockout, according to the report.

The report indicated the forming of the Kontinental League accounted for part of the decrease, as well as a lack of blue chip prospects being produced by European countries.

Sweden, the report says, has overtaken the Czech Republic as the prime producer of European players.

The number of Europeans in the NHL is now the lowest it has been since the 1998-1999 season, when the league averaged just 7.33 Europeans per team. In 2003-04, 300 European players (29.5 percent of the league) suited up in the NHL, which represents the most all-time.

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