2019/2020 Regular Season Recap

Discussion in 'The KHL' started by SoundAndFury, Feb 27, 2020.

  1. SoundAndFury Registered User

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    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 Standings
    1. Avangard1. Ak Bars
    2. Magnitka2. Barys
    3. Avtomobilist3. Avangard
    4. Ak Bars4. Avtomobilist
    5. Salavat Yulaev5. Sibir
    6. Barys6. Salavat Yulaev
    7. Traktor7. Magntika
    8. Kunlun8. Neftekhimik
    9. Sibir9. Amur
    10. Neftekhimik10. Kunlun
    11. Admiral11. Traktor
    12. Amur12. Admiral
    Teams 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.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
    Howe Elbows 9, Rigafan and pukovnik like this.
  2. Atas2000 Registered User

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    At least you admit your predictions were mostly terribly wrong.

    As for AkBars trades. Only Tkachyov is an obviously bad one, but no mystery. Kvartalnov can't share the room with talented vets. Just a personal conflict all the way. Zaripov and Azevedo are untouchables for him. Other than that he just got rid of everyone who could question his authority, that is shaky at best.

    Garipov's trade I had to wait for until he aggravated his back problems, but it was well overdue and a good move for the team. Watching him in the recent game against Avangard I was reminded of his play for us a lot and it was such a relief to see him in the other uniform. He's won the Cup with us. He can take it as a pro I guess.

    Ozhiganov again as already discussed here was just a character thing with Kvartalnov. They were not on the same page ever. And Ozhiganov also wasn't exactly leading our D in anything. So far a so much lower rated Rukavishnikov is not any worse, while Wikstrand has become a mainstay even if he is not the best D-man in the league maybe. As much as I'd love to have Sergachyov, IRL it is what it is.

    The borderline absurd depth acquisitions are all on Kvartalnov. That's his style I hate. Yeah, they gave us depth for some exuberant rotation in the regular season that won us the conference, but he can't play 5 lines in the playoffs. That was always his problem.

    I don't have high hopes for the playoffs. I know Kvartalnov's playoff record by the eye test. If he doesn't somehow pulls a different self out of a hat, it won't last long.

    A pity Soshnikov's loss undermines SYu significantly. So a cautious guess would be Avangard and AkBars(if Kvartalnov does not somehow craps his pants against the little brother from another mother) will take on presumably Barys and Avto in the 2nd round. And that's better than the usual four meeting again in the East.
     
  3. SoundAndFury Registered User

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    They were, however, mostly correct :huh: The only things that were flat out wrong were Traktor and Magnitka but, having said that, I don't know what kind of genius did one have to be to see that coming and definitely no one was genius enough to put it on record.

    Furthermore, I don't mean to brag but I got pretty much entire west table right with the exception of Severstal who managed to finish 10th and not 12th.

    Also, let's not get into your predictions, your proclaimed VHL forward just finished 2nd in scoring on your team.
     
  4. Atas2000 Registered User

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    This is exactly to show how wrong the team is built now. Aren't you the guy who called the trade of Tkachyov a head scratcher?
     
  5. SoundAndFury Registered User

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    Well yes and yes. However, I think by this point it's still fairly obvious Galiev isn't a VHL player though, is he?

    Although the way team was built obviously ties in with the money so we don't know everything for sure.
     
  6. Rigafan Registered User

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    For myself this was one of the worst seasons.

    Riga.. what's the point in even mentioning them! Plus the KHL took broadcasts away and gave them to some horrible company I refuse to pay any money to AND they geoblocked the Daily KHL YouTube highlights (really don't understand this).
     
  7. SoundAndFury Registered User

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    East all done in OP, let's take a look at the West.

    West. PredictionActual Standings
    1. CSKA1. CSKA
    2. SKA2. SKA
    3. Jokerit3. Jokerit
    4. Dynamo4. Dynamo
    5. Lokomotiv5. Spartak
    6. Spartak6. Lokomotiv
    7. Torpedo7. Vityaz
    8. Vityaz8. Torpedo
    9. Sochi9. Sochi
    10. Riga10. Severstal
    11. Minsk11. Riga
    12. Severstal12. Minsk
    So West played out pretty much exactly as expected other than Loko struggling pretty bad at the start of the season and Severstal not being terrible and leaving two Dinamos far, far behind. It also has to be mentioned, CSKA wasn't as dominant as expected only winning the regular season by 1 point.
    • CSKA
    Business as usual here.

    Small congratulations to Sergei Tolchinsky going above 0.5 PPG for the first time in his career with fairly limited TOI. With some of the leaders soon to be gone internal promotion might be in place.
    • SKA
    SKA played like an absolute ass at the first half of the season and I was pretty vocal about it, they had some really terrible stretches, worst being 1 regulation win in 15 games or something close to that. But, credit where credit is due, they fixed it. They fixed it real good and arguable were the best team in the league in 2nd part.

    Individually, most guys had meh seasons though. Those deserving of note are Samonov, who is evidently a SKA's starter now; Zub, with 13 goals and +35 and Kuzmenko, who went from the worst forward on the team (2 points in 2 months at the beginning of the season) to one of the best, finishing 2nd in scoring. Oh and the young guys too.
    • Jokerit
    Great season for a great team. Again, nothing unforeseen, really.

    The veteran forwards managed to do very well, Lehtonen is an absolute star. Haapala struggled a bit more than expected, Niemi was an absolute blunderous signing and Moses seems to be in tune with his usual 1 good year followed by 1 bad year pace.
    • Dynamo Moscow
    Some people have doubted them (looking at you, ozo :sarcasm:) but I was never one of those. Shipachyov just continues to dominate the league, Jaskin, somewhat surprisingly, has complimented him really nicely as well. Cajkovsky also finally delivered on his potential with his first 30+ point season in the KHL.

    Overall, just another team where things went like they were supposed to. Maybe some of their depth players (Polygalov, Bryukvin, Afinogenov) would have liked to have a better season and maybe it would have taken them to the 3rd spot but oh well. For the Krikunov-coached team, 4th place finish is definitely good enough.
    • Spartak
    Hard to say Spartak overachieved heavily, it's just Znarok doing his thing while Loko allowed them to take advantage.

    Individually, however, much like MVD/Dynamo Moscow days, producers on Znarok's teams just come out of nowhere. Artyom Fyodorov leading the team in scoring with 41 points (he was actually coached by Znarok/in the same system all the way back to 13/14 Dynamo), Yakov Rylov with 35 points... Somewhat amazing. But again, standings don't care if that's Khokhlachev and Hersley doing
    the scoring, or those 2 guys.
    • Lokomotiv
    It's hard not to go full Cpt. Hindsight mode in such a situation, especially seeing how Loko continues to do in the PO but I will try my hardest.

    From the start, everyone and their mother knew Mac guy was the wrong hire. No idea what they were thinking but that thinking was wrong. Also let's keep in mind they pretty much sacked Kvartalnov because his PO results weren't satisfactory... And then you get these guys instead :laugh:

    Coaching issues aside, there were a few roster problems as well. Konovalov had a bad season and probably should have played fewer games as Lazushin continued where he left off last season and was solid. Another goalie who has come such a long way compared to what he once was. The defense was bad as well, Kronwall is past it and the only players that should be labeled as solid are Rafikov and Nakladal. And those aren't exactly superstars either. This might actually be the worst, least-promising defensive squad Loko had that I can remember.

    Offensively the team played, I feel, well enough. Sure it was a bad season for A LOT of veterans (Apalkov with 5 points...) but as a whole, I think it's outweighed by the positive progress most young guys made. If Loko can get rid of the deadweight in the summer (which has already started with shipping out Sannikov) this forward core is great.
    • Vityaz
    Vityaz got of to an amazing start and then just ruined their team one move after another. None of the trades with SKA helped them on the ice, they basically gave away the players who made their team work for well, whatever it was SKA had to get rid of. Byvaltsev, whom SKA donated, finished with worst +/- on the team, for example.

    Long story short, they went from a very nice team at the beginning of the year to some butchered, malfunctioning mess in the 2nd half. All the guys signed in the summer did well enough for their roles and all the guys they brought in later (Varfolomeyev, Howden, Kochetkov, Byvaltsev) did with a variable degree of badness. So now they will get swept in the PO by their parent club and that will be that.

    On the bright side though, I would have said Vityaz has like 5% chance to finish above the 7th place before the season began so they still finished as high as any sensible person would have guessed.
    • Torpedo
    I like Torpedo, I wished they would finish higher but the quality just isn't there so again, another team that, all things considered, can feel pretty happy where they ended up at.

    Their goalies aren't very good, their defense isn't very good and their forwards are flawed. But they play that up-tempo style and their 165 goals scored would actually place them 3rd in the East (that's more than Avangard scored, for example). So they might not be very good but at least they are fun to watch.

    Another tough offseason ahead for Torpedo though. Most of their legitimately good players have their contracts expire and those high point totals make them attractive targets to many teams.
    • Sochi
    So out of 3 teams that were roughly equal in my eyes before the season, Sochi were the weakest. Nothing too surprising but if many things went very right for Vityaz (especially so at the start), Sochi was the team that saw almost every decision they make backfire.

    First of all: firing Zubov, that was stupid. Will never understand the logic behind giving someone a clearly bad roster and yet firing them after 20 games for not magically making it work.

    Furthermore, in arguably the most important season of his career, Shikin performed terribly (.902) and Proskuryakov, as expected, was of no help (.906) making Sochi's goalie situation an absolute mess (again, thanks SKA for all you do to this league). Nalimov was sent to the rescue eventually but it was too late by that point.

    Overall, the blame falls on everyone. This team was poorly built with very few quality players outside of imports; coaching couldn't even get those few good players clicking (I'd wager Rosen would have scored more than 24 points under Zubov) and obviously, many players let themselves down: guys like Shikin or Collins probably cost themselves hundreds of thousands of moneys by the season they just had.
    • Severstal
    It's somewhat unusual to congratulate the team for finishing 10th but these guys did a really good job by actually being way closer to the PO spot than the bottom of the table. Although what I said in Amur's case applies here as well, they took advantage of many team really not taking them seriously, much like Admiral last year these guys competed hard every game and with next to no big names on the roster still managed to be close to .500 team (be it in the skewed 2 point system).

    Personel-wise though, not much to talk about. Geraskin and Vovchenko, unsurprisingly top scorers on this team, only managed 23 and 22 points respectively. They got the points in the standings by buying into the game plan which was all about working hard, taking possession and limiting the shots their goalies face as opposed to giving up possession but limiting high-danger chances strategy many other weak teams tend to exhibit (that's how Alikins of this world get .937 Sv%). No such thing here and they have achieved all that even with having pretty pedestrian team save percentage of ~.917.

    Some low-key guys used this as a nice stepping stone to further their KHL careers though, Kodola and Yakimov most notably.
    • Dinamo Riga
    11 regulation wins in 62 games, that is abysmal... I was way more optimistic before the season but it all collapsed after it became clear Gudlevskis is an absolute sieve. The team didn't have money to afford a real goalie so roster moves had to be made to clear some salary to sign Salak.

    Salak did well enough under the circumstances but the aftermentioned moves punched multiple holes in the lineup: Berglund turned out to be legitimately potent KHL scorer for Neftekhimik, Ullstrom scored 30 points in 28 games after signing with Biel in NLA. So the team had a goalie at the expense of 2 top-line forwards which is not exactly the greatest of trades. The forward core thus became the usual Darzins and the bunch of scrubs situation which everyone has gotten used to over the last 3-4 years.

    In the end, this season again served no purpose. Even as far as the young players go the interesting ones weren't Latvian.
    • Dinamo Minsk
    I will be honest, had I known before the season guys like Prince, Spooner, Morrow are going to join this team I would have projected them higher. Those guys plus Pare, Kostitsyn, Pulkkinen, Gragnani... 39 points. What a joke.

    This team had 6-7 players that would have been the biggest name on Riga, Severstal, Amur.. Even on Neftekhimik who actually managed to make the playoffs. 39 points... Any wonder Lukashenko just wants to shut it down?
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2020
  8. SoundAndFury Registered User

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    And that is Western conference done as well.
     
  9. ozo Registered User

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    Here I am drinking my morning coffee, enjoying some decent hockey write-up and then - boom, vicious personal attack! :D To my defense. I was not aware that Jaskin has turned into Wayne Gretzky over summer, so yeah there's that prediction looking bad on me.
     
  10. rohky Registered User

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    Staffan Kronwall retired. Yaroslavl D-men played over 500 games in the KHL, living legend. He only scored one goal this season but was an excellent defenseman. Was he one of the oldest players in the league?
     
  11. SoundAndFury Registered User

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    Not really, there are 4 guys born in '79. I also don't think he was all that great. Definitely a solid player but nothing spectacular.
     

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