Although the board seems more dead than ever (sadly) I thought it would be pretty interesting to see how the teams have faired this season and the reasons that played into it using my season preview as the basis. This is going to be a hell of a long post (probably) so I'm going to update it in parts as usual. Hopefully, it will be all done before the playoffs start. So let's try this. East. PredictionActual Standings1. Avangard1. Ak Bars2. Magnitka2. Barys3. Avtomobilist3. Avangard4. Ak Bars4. Avtomobilist5. Salavat Yulaev5. Sibir6. Barys6. Salavat Yulaev7. Traktor7. Magntika8. Kunlun8. Neftekhimik9. Sibir9. Amur10. Neftekhimik10. Kunlun11. Admiral11. Traktor12. Amur12. AdmiralTeams in black are ones that finished within 1 position from their predicted placement. So yeah, lots of color here, especially compared to the West. It was clear from the get-go the top of the conference, 2-7 places are kinda hard to predict but some teams really performed way below the most pessimistic expectations. Ak Bars Ak Bars taking the 1st place isn't a huge shock but it is unexpected they managed to beat Avangard by 10 points and by midseason the fight for the top spot didn't seem close. The true overachievers on the team were the young guys (Galimov, Voronkov) and the 1st defense pair (Yarullin, Wikstrand) who both had their career seasons. Bilyalov continued to impress much like he did in Riga while Reideborn, albeit spectacular goalie at times, overall just kept conceding more goals than one would expect from Ak Bars' keeper. Other guys, meanwhile, didn't perform much above or below expectations except for mid-season acquisitions. Talking about those, the transfer activity was dubious. Virtanen and Sannikov would be in consideration for the worst season out of those on this team. Ozhiganov, Garipov and Tkachyov were traded away which, I think anyone who follows the KHL can see, were pretty controversial moves. Especially since the team did nothing but win with those guys. Their part in winning is again, pretty controversial topic. Tkachyov trade is the biggest head-scratcher, he was playing really well and after the trade played even better for Loko while Ak Bars didn't get a worthwhile roster player in return. Sannikov could be considered a salary dump by NHL standards at this point. Overall, it's hard to consider Ak Bars as a clear favorite in PO but they still have very potent pieces and are definitely in the fight. Barys The nice surprise here, the team wasn't doing particularly well until the midseason when it started clicking. So it happens Videll and Ohtamaa joined the team around that point, weird coincidence huh. Videll again proved he is a pretty amazing player at the KHL level finishing with 30 points in 37 games on a team absolutely starving for the offense before that. Much like season preview anticipated, most summer import signings were from meh to terrible Knight and Pasquale being the exceptions. Can't help but feel Barys' position doesn't give them the favorite status it should, they remain a wild card team which can hang in there with anyone but at the same time, would them losing to Magnitka in the first round be a big surprise? Avangard Without going into too much detail, I think Avangard had a pretty terrible season. Last year they absolutely dominated possession in most games forcing opposing goalies to make 40+ saves on a regular basis, they were just a steamroll of a team. This year, even though they improved the roster, they weren't even close. They had a lot of injuries to their D, obviously, the Zernov situation, which all have played a part but their secondary scoring wasn't good and overall performance just kinda sucked. Shoutout to Kirill Semyonov though who led the team in scoring with 46 points. Avtomobilist Another team that frankly, didn't look convincing. Dawes is obviously slowing down, he was a minus player (-5) for the first time in his KHL career and although he scored 50 points that's still a steep drop from 69 last year. Sexton with 34 points also had his worst season in terms of PPG. Datsyuk, let's not even talk about it... The defense also struggled, Vishnevsky was shipped out of town. They still finished roughly where predicted but that's due to so many other teams being so bad. So that was the bad. On the bright side, newcomers Macek and Holland really did as well, if not better, as expected. The team managed to get into ok shape in the 2nd part of the season and definitely should be considered favorites against humble Sibir. After that though, this team just isn't as impressive as last year... Hard to see them challenging Ak Bars in the next round. Unless 34-point Dan Sexton turns into 60-point Dan Sexton again. Sibir The team with an undefeatable spirit, Sibir makes the biggest and the most amazing jump. Again, many teams in the East just sucked for no apparent reason but it takes little away from Novosibirsk boys. Like I wrote in the preview Jokipakka was exactly the addition they needed. Minutes eating D with 32 points. All other imports also did their bit, Russian guys did little but not sink, goalies stopped the pucks and that was good enough. They even signed 3 of their Finns to an extension already. On the downside, many of their young players had a pretty rough year. Morozov was ok, Demidov and Naumov struggled on varying degrees, Mikhailov was quite terrible. Good for Sibir I guess, that means easy extensions with those guys but they themselves probably aren't too happy. Sibir aren't going to be favorites against anyone but this team is all heart. Wish them all the best. Salavat Yulaev Another big team in the East which was just terrible. 29 wins in 62 games this season for a team like that... Hard to point the finger at someone exactly but as a whole this team just didn't work. Soshnikov was a great addition, much better than most people expected I think but at the same time, Manninen wasn't the greatest fit and the PP, of such offensively stacked team, was atrocious. Sergeyev, causing all that drama in the summer, also didn't prove anything this year leaving SYu defense pretty thin on any offensive potential. Great PO run saved many heads in Ufa last year but they will need to come up with something similar again. And the first-round opponent is Avangard so the heads are, almost certainly, gonna roll. There were many rumors Omark is going to leave the town and maybe it's actually for the best as his talent is indisputable but the money SYu throw around should lead to better results. Magnitogorsk What the ****ing **** happened there? Honestly, the explanations that were given for this garbage season seem unconvincing. There is just no reason why this group of players performed so badly. I guess that's for the people who have seen it all from the inside to figure out. Neftekhimik Neftekhimik is another team that quite surprisingly managed to get into the playoffs although realistically, nothing really went much different for their team than predicted before the season. Their goalies didn't do very well (Barulin with .905 Sv%) and their top-end players didn't do very well (only one guy with 30+ points). What did go well is that none of the other bottom teams did much better. Also, there are definitely some guys who deserve recognition. Riga's legend Jacob Berglund was actually on pace for almost 40 points over full season. Khairullin, Shiksatdarov and Kulikov all hit 20-point mark for the first time in their career which ended up being just enough to get this team in the PO. Over 60 points from the guys who should be considered to be bottom-6 players is pretty unbelievable at the KHL level. It also has to be noted, when it mattered, in the last month of the regular season, they really crushed the direct competition with convincing wins. Considering pre-season expectations and the strength of the roster, definitely one of the most successful seasons ever for Nizhnekamsk. Amur Amur finished 9th even though they spent most of the season in "they are bad and no one cares" bracket. They did a pretty good job by not giving up on the season and battling back into a respectable position although really, I can't help but feel they only got there because nobody took them seriously. Despite coming under immense scrutiny at the start of the season (especially Hynek Zohorna, got to love Russian media) all of the guys, especially more notable ones, had a decent-to-good season at the end of the day. Yevgeni Alikin, whom I called one of the worst goalies in the league way back in the day, had an especially amazing season with .937 Sv%. That line is inflated by Amur's tight system but needless to say days, when this guy was considered bad or unreliable, are in the past. As always, tough summer ahead for Amur. Every half-decent forward they have becoming an FA, most UFAs so it will be interesting to see what they do. Kunlun Something is in the water in China. Was way before coronavirus struck since this is 3rd year they can't make PO with, seemingly, amazing rosters. No matter what nationalities are on those or what moves they make in-season, result is the same, absolute failure. I think their off-season priority should be to invest into a legitimate top tier coach because the amount of underachieving and failure those teams carry year after year is just crazy. Tyler Wong was a nice surprise, the bottom-6 player in the AHL last year he led this team in scoring. Both great showing by him and a terrible one by Curt Fraser who couldn't get any of his big profile names to score more than this guy on 0.5 PPG pace. Traktor THE biggest surprise of the season here, I think. The team which showed so much promise and burnt down in flames. Bad goaltending could have been blamed at the start of the season but that point the team still hovered around .500 mark good enough to stay in the playoff race. When goaltending started fixing itself (incomes Ivan Fedotov) the rest of the team just fell apart. Often times, imports get all the slack for not carrying the team but in this case, Traktor's imports were the only thing keeping them somewhat competitive. Pretty much every higher profile Russian guy - Glinkin, Kruchinin, Malykhin, Kravtsov, Demchenko, Scherbak - had an embarrassing season. Before the season this team had 1 noticeable flaw - bad defense. In reality, there was so much more. Admiral Most heartbreaking placement here, Admiral were in the PO position pretty much all season long before running out of magic sauce. They have been struggling for quite a while, winning two games in a row at the beginning of December for the last time. But since the rest of the teams around them weren't exactly world-beaters either it seemed they will make it. Alas.. Ultimately, just like predicted, the team lacked depth. Every player can't play his best season after season and Butuzov, Streltsovs, Mishchenko, all had down years. I'm still a fan of Admiral's strategy to invest into really good top-end players, I think nobody can complain about Bakos or Ljungh. If were the GM of KHL's budget team I would be going after that kind of players every time.