The much despised Malakhov had a few eye opening bouts when he was with us. He seemed to have a clue anyway.
Oh yeah. That's what Draft Guru was always amazed about. Malakhov is a big guy who is as good of a skater as anybody and when on his game, is sharp with passes, big slap shots, huge bodychecks and fights. I've been watching Malakhov since 93 and I don't think he ever lost a fight (as little as he had).
European hockey doesn't have any fighting involved and is looked harshly upon. Hence, there are no European fighters for the sole purpose of fighting. If you're a goon in Europe, you still have to be able to skate and play hockey.
There are many ways to be "tough" and gritty on the ice. You've mentioned Tomas Holmström in Detroit Red Wings, who takes a ton of beating in front of goal for his team and is perhaps the best in NHL in what he does. It was asked in Sweden what Tomas Holmström should do in NHL when he was picked by Detoit, "there are tons of his kind over there." But there's only one Holmström.
You've also mentioned Kaspar, whose hitting is worth gold for his team. Nazarov is also mentioned.
Also take a look on a star player like Peter Forsberg for example. In his younger days, he played very physical and was not afraid to deliver and take. As we've seen, this had an impact on his injuries. The battles between him and Kirk Maltby in the playoffs were hard. This season in Philly, he seem to have toned down his physical play.
THE player to be mentioned though, is Börje Salming. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borje_Salming
He was the guy who opened up for other Europeans to play for real in NHL and he stood up against a ton of harassment from both North American media and the opponent players. It was tough as hell for him, but Börje was tougher.
As people have pointed out, big diffefence between being soft and not being a fighter..fighting is just not part of the game where the guys over In europe/Russia grow/grew up, but many of them are as tough as nails...Chara is defienbtely a more physical player but he and Maladog were the equivalent of Larry Robinson in that they were guys that seldom fought but could kick the crap out of alomost anybody when they got pissed.....Nazarov and Oliwa are the only goons I can think of...ANd, hey, wasn't Bobby Nystrom born in Sweden?
Just because they're not fighters or tough guys doesn't mean their soft.
See Alex Kovalev...pretty good hitter, besides that slashing incident a couple years ago he isn't exactly a whimp
Jagr plays a game of power, he has skill as well of course. He ran over those 2 dman against tampa...a soft player would not attempt that
Forsberg's hardly soft
Ovechkin always throws hits
Marian Hossa has fought before and can throw a good hit
See most finnish players
Sundin is generally tougher than he was when he started out
Saying they are soft is just a myth, although the north american style is generally more hitting to say they are soft makes no sense.
Tuomo is fairly tough. He throws hard hits and has fought a few times.
Tuomo... I like him a lot. Back in 2001, Chicago was going to pick either Tuomo Ruutu or Dan Blackburn. I was praying that Tuomo would fall to the 10th spot, where we were picking. Unfortunately, Tuomo was picked by the Black Hawks. Tuomo is a fast forward with excellent offensive skills and would not back down from anyone, the scouting report read. I wanted this kid badly, but alas..