Playing Hockey In Europe
Basically most teams that pay well are not interested in guys if you have not played in the AHL or the NHL. And as for teams that don't pay that well - they are not interested in bringing North Americans in.
The fact is that most Canadians could probably play over in Europe even at a lower level. But why would a team want to bring over a player that doesn't speak the language and in effect take a place of a native player. To do that you can't just be as good, you have to be better than that native player.
The hardest thing to do is get over to Europe. Once you are there and have proven yourself it is much easier to market yourself, but it is really hard to generate any interest if you have not proven yourself in the North America pro leagues first.
I would say that most of the players in Europe have done that and if they haven't, they either have some connections over here or they have family relations and can play under an EU passport (without having a EU-country passport it's getting very tough to land a job in Europe these days due to stricter import-limits and an increase in EU-players available after the Union was extended by 10 countries recently) and have some grasp of the language.
I would say a good rule is if you can't play at an ECHL level or higher it is very difficult to generate any interest. What happens if I'm a really good junior player? Teams are not that impressed if you have played in juniors even if you put up good numbers. Junior players are a dime a dozen here and if the team is going to bring you over and replace a native player they want a top quality player not a just a middle of the road player.
I know that these are harsh words but I'm not trying to give anyone false hope or inflate their egos. This is professional hockey and it is not some glorified beer league that some think it is.
Many of the players have families and this is what they do to put food on the table. Europe is not for everyone but is for some. If a player has enough heart, determination and skill you will catch on with a team and I wish you the best of luck!