Top Russian Prospects from the KHL: Who's Coming Over in 2019?

By Caser · Feb 18, 2019 · Updated Feb 19, 2019
  1. Caser @RUSProspects

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    KHL regular season comes to an end and, with Nikita Popugaev already having crossed the pond earlier this month (signed only an AHL deal though), you can say it's about time to take a look at top drafted prospects and RFAs under the age of 27, whose KHL (and, in some cases, VHL) deals are expiring. Tried to make that in a form of a Top20 ranking with players ranked by a combination of the current ability/talent and probability of moving to the NHL. Unfortunately I wasn't able to include non-Russian players on the list, as to properly evaluate their plans you need to access their countries' press and I don't know so many languages.

    Just for fun I've added a very approximate probability (obviously, estimated from my point of view) of player coming to the NA this offseason and his projected role next season in case he does decide to come over.

    Also added links to eliteprospects' profiles of these players, in case someone is unfamiliar with them.

    P.S. Formal logic tells me that this kind of a list might belong in the 'Trade' boards more, since it is not only about prospects, but I think people here might find it more interesting.


    1. RW Vitaliy Kravtsov (NHL rights: New York Rangers) Upd.: Signed with NYR.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 99.999(9)%
    Projected role next season (if signs): Top 9 RW (NHL)

    Everything already has been said about Kravtsov leaving as soon as Traktor team is out of the KHL play-offs, so NYR fans are following the KHL pretty closely now. I guess I don't need to comment on Kravtsov's talent neither.


    2. GK Igor Shestyorkin (NHL rights: New York Rangers) Upd.: Signed with NYR.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 90%
    Projected role next season (if signs): AHL starter/NHL backup

    All signs are pointing towards Shestyorkin joining Rangers team this summer, as his current team SKA are actively taking measures aimed at replacing him next season. Still it will be interesting to see how NYR will handle the goalie situation and insure that both Shestyorkin get enough game practice to develop properly.


    3. D Vladislav Gavrikov (NHL rights: Columbus Blue Jackets) Upd.: Signed with CBJ.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 85%
    Projected role next season (if signs): second pairing D (NHL)

    Gavrikov has developed into arguably the best defenseman in the KHL and Blue Jackets management already stated that they are counting on him for the next season.


    4. LW Nikita Gusev (NHL rights: Vegas Golden Knights) Upd.: Signed with VGK.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 75%
    Projected role next season (if signs): Top6 LW (NHL)

    After tearing up the KHL this season and setting up the all-time KHL record in assists things are slowly, but steadily are pointing towards Gusev joining the Vegas team in the coming summer.


    5. C Nikolai Prokhorkin (NHL rights: Los Angeles Kings) Upd.: Signed with LAK.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 75%
    Projected role next season (if signs): Middle 6 center (NHL)

    Prokhorkin had a lot of up-and-downs on the course of his career, so you never know what to expect from him, still he had a good season and Kings definitely would want to have him back and reports are indicating that they won't need to wait for too long.


    6. RW Alexander Khokhlachev (NHL rights: Boston Bruins) Upd.: re-signed in the KHL for 2 more years.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 60%
    Projected role next season (if signs): Top9 RW (NHL)

    There have been a lot of talks about coach Cassidy wanting to see Khokhlachev on the Bruins team and Khokhlachev himself told that it will be a tough decision in case he'll need to make one (about the return to the NHL), but obviously Bruins need to offer him at least a Top9 RW roster spot to make him seriously consider that and I'm not sure if their current roster situation makes it possible.


    7. D Yegor Rykov (NHL rights: New York Rangers) Upd.: Signed with NYR.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 80%
    Projected role next season (if signs): Top4 D (AHL)/3rd pairing D (NHL)

    Rangers fans are gonna have quite a summer. Apparently Rykov is coming over too and, while likely he would start the season in the AHL, it is not impossible that he could need less than a season to get to the NHL, if things go the right way.


    8. RW Yegor Korshkov (NHL rights: Toronto Maple Leafs) Upd.: Signed with TOR.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 75%
    Projected role next season (if signs): wherever coach needs a big mobile RW (AHL or NHL)

    Since the draft Korshkov's career didn't go the way everyone wanted it to go, as basically every time he started to show some really good hockey he got injured. Judging by the reports, he hopes it can go a better way in Toronto.


    9. RW Anatoliy Golyshev (NHL rights: New York Islanders) Upd.: re-signed in the KHL for 4 more years (with an option to leave after 2 years).
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 45%
    Projected role next season (if signs): Top9 W (NHL)

    Golyshev certainly elevated his game this season to become quite an offense generator and it is pretty possible that the Islanders can free up a roster spot for him (as Eberle might not resign). Still I doubt he will come over now due to personal reasons: his wife just gave birth to their second kid, also Golyshev's current salary is pretty low, so it would make sense to stay and make some money first.


    10. GK Ivan Nalimov (NHL rights: Chicago Blackhawks)
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 80%
    Projected role next season (if signs): AHL starter/NHL backup

    Nalimov wanted to sign with the Blackhawks already before this season, yet they didn't have a proper place for him in the system. Hopefully next season they can use him at least as a 1A guy in the AHL.


    11. C Mikhail Maltsev (NHL rights: New Jersey Devils) Upd.: Signed with NJD.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 55%
    Projected role next season (if signs): middle-six C (AHL)

    Maltsev signed only a 1-year extension last spring, which looked like a sign that he doesn't want to stay with SKA team for too long. Additionally, judging by his earlier interviews, he certainly wouldn't mind working with coach Brylin in the AHL, who actually looks like a decent role model for Maltsev.


    12. D Rushan Rafikov (NHL rights: Calgary Flames) Upd.: re-signed in the KHL for 2 more years.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 45%
    Projected role next season (if signs): 3rd pairing D (NHL)

    Not many Flames fans remember Rafikov's name, but pretty sure that he is on Flames management's radar, as he has developed into a solid physical D with quite a slapper.


    13. GK Daniil Tarasov (NHL rights: Columbus Blue Jackets) Upd.: Signed with CBJ.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 15%
    Projected role next season (if signs): AHL 1A/1B goalie

    I don't actually think that Tarasov will sign with Blue Jackets this season, as I think in Salavat Yulaev organization he has pretty good opportunities to develop and succeed (having his dad as a goalie coach there also helps), but the fact that he didn't sign an extension yet makes it kind of suspicious.


    14. GK Kirill Ustimenko (NHL rights: Philadelphia Flyers) Upd.: Signed with PHI.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 75%
    Projected role next season (if signs): ECHL starter/AHL back-up

    Ustimenko's current team situation is not very good for his further progress and Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher already stated that they would like to sign him. In this case it would likely be a starter's position in the ECHL for him.


    15. D Yegor Zaitsev (NHL rights: New Jersey Devils)
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 40%
    Projected role next season (if signs): D in the AHL

    Zaitsev's brother Oleg moved to the WHL before this season, so that could be a sign that Nikita could join him in NA too (especially if Oleg is also drafted by NJD). Likely not NHL caliber currently, yet couple of years in the AHL could help to get there.


    16. LW Bulat Shafigullin (NHL rights: Los Angeles Kings) Upd.: re-signed in the KHL for 2 more years.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 10%
    Projected role next season (if signs): offensive-minded LW (ECHL or AHL)

    Shafigullin looks to be struggling with translation to KHL hockey from juniors, so maybe a change of environment could help, although according to reports in LAK press, it is quite unlikely at this point.


    17. GK Shamil Shmakov (NHL rights: Colorado Avalanche)
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 35%
    Projected role next season (if signs): ECHL starter

    Shmakov has been playing his third season in juniors and it's obviously a time to move to a more serious level of hockey, yet not sure that the Sibir organization is a great place for a goalie to do that, Avalanche management could offer something more tempting.


    18. GK Konstantin Volkov (NHL rights: Nashville Predators) Upd.: re-signed in the VHL for 1 more year.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 15%
    Projected role next season (if signs): ECHL 1A/1B goalie

    Volkov is just 21, yet already at this point it doesn't look like his career is going in the right direction, if Predators management could arrange something in the ECHL for him, I wouldn't be surprised with him accepting that.


    19. C Dmitriy Zhukenov (NHL rights: Vancouver Canucks) Upd.: re-signed in the KHL for 2 more years.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 5%
    Projected role next season (if signs): Top9 center (ECHL)

    Another 21 year old with an expiring contract and looking for some career restart is Zhukenov, maybe Jim Benning has some (or any) ideas, but definitely not sure if he cares about Zhukenov at all.


    20. C Bogdan Yakimov (NHL rights: Edmonton Oilers) Upd.: re-signed in the KHL for 2 more years.
    Probability of signing in the NHL: 10%
    Projected role next season (if signs): Bottom6 center (AHL)

    Yes, Oilers fans, this big guy is still playing hockey (hasn't been too good at that though), Oilers still own his rights and his contract expires. Doubt that he is in the Oilers management's plans, but maybe someone will remember that he used to look rather good in the AHL (Craig MacTavish is still in the organization, you know).
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
  2. BKarchitect Registered User

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    Tremendous and informative post - thanks for taking the time to do this, Caser. :clap:
     
  3. stringunspecified Registered User

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    I assume that Sorokin is not on this list because he is under contract for 2019-2020 and has not requested a buyout. Is that correct?
     
  4. ChazzMichaelMichaels Registered User

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    Awesome post! Thank you!
     
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  5. Atas2000 Registered User

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    Yes, Kaprizov as well.
     
  6. Caser @RUSProspects

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    Yes, aside from that article by Arthur Staple there are totally no signs of Sorokin not fulfilling his contract, so unless something extraordinary happens it looks like he is going to stay until 2020.


    Btw, wanted to ask everyone in case you notice that I missed someone, just write it here. I mean, I tried to cover all Russian drafted prospects under the age of 27 with expiring contracts, but I totally could've missed someone.
     
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  7. Leon Draisaitl German Gretzky

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    I know he wasn't drafted, but any chance Tkachyov comes back? I know he's having a bad year, but I still think the Oilers could use him.
     
  8. boredmale HFBoards Sponsor Sponsor

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    I would be great if he teams up with the Iron Sheik

     
  9. Caser @RUSProspects

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    I think there is a chance couple of Tkachyovs could cross the pond in the coming summer, yes. :) Actually I was thinking about doing similar write-up for UFAs, but that's probably not happenning earlier than in May.
     
  10. BigRangy Eetu, Brute?

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    I was going to ask about Rafikov but you covered him. Only problem with coming over is that there will definitely not be any NHL space for him, at least in Calgary.

    Unless he can play the right side, of course.
     
  11. Caser @RUSProspects

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    Rafikov is left-handed, but plays on the right side pretty frequently in the KHL.
     
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  12. MaxV Registered User

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    Someone posted a rumor about Andronov. I guess for bottom 6 role.
     
  13. SoundAndFury Registered User

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    Mikheyev?
     
  14. Caser @RUSProspects

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    Well, as I've mentioned, this list contains only drafted prospects/RFAs, for UFAs I hope to make another list at some point.

    Edit: I guess I had to be more specific, I'll try to edit the OP a bit to make it more clear.
     
  15. BKarchitect Registered User

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    I've noticed both Tkachyov's have much worse numbers this year...in particular, big Tkachyov (Ak Bars one) was looking like one of the most complete centers in the league and a Russian NT staple last season, not to mention a guy many NHL teams were rumored to be looking at. This year looks like numbers way down and no appearances for the NT. Just a bump in the road or has he been passed both at club and national team level?
     
  16. Caser @RUSProspects

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    Not exactly an easy question for me... I mean, he certainly looked rather bad this season, at least comparing to expectations - frequently got demoted to bottom6 wing position and you can't say he didn't deserve it. But again, not easy to tell what is the reason, maybe confidence or something... looked better in recent games though. Still I think NHL teams know what he is capable of, so I think there will be interest.
     
  17. MGK Zero Expectations

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    I was under the impression he would be signing with Vegas, and that the younger Tkachyov is signing with NYR.

    Interesting to note they both have the same birthday.
     
  18. montreal Go Habs Go

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    I believe the Habs GM said something about trying to bring Romanov over but since he's under contract with CSKA for another year I figured it to be unlikely.
     
  19. LaMascarade Registered User

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    Probability of signing in the NHL of 75% for Nikita Gusev??!!

    Really makes me happy, but do you have any evidences about "things are slowly, but steadily are pointing towards Gusev joining the Vegas team in the coming summer"
     
  20. SoundAndFury Registered User

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    Well he has outgrown the KHL for sure and even in Russia consensus is he should try the NHL because there is no real reason not to. 75% seems to be a fairly correct number. It's not 100% but he is definitely looking into the possibility so it's likely he signs.
     
  21. Caser @RUSProspects

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    Well, it's complicated to get any "evidence" of any kind, unless it's Kravtsov's situation, when a player tells about it himself (and most of the players, obviously, don't).

    But if we are talking about indirect signs:
    • Probably most important sign is also the most obvious: he is yet to sign an extension with just two more months left on his contract. He is SKA team's leader and they would definitely extended him on any conditions at this point if he would agree, which likely means that he doesn't agree for some reason. For comparison, previous extension Gusev has signed when there still was a year left on his contract.
    • Igor Eronko from Sport-Express newspaper (which is the leading sports media resource in Russia) is pretty confident that Gusev will sign and he got connections/inside sources.
    • At the start of the season GMGM met Gusev and after that he was pretty hopeful that Gusev will sign.
    • Gusev himself told that you need to go to the NHL when you're ready and his current performance should tell him that he is ready (I mean, if that is not 'ready', then what is?)
    • Last, but not least, Gusev's first coach mentioned that Gusev really liked Vegas when he was visiting there some time ago.
    Maybe I'm forgetting something, but that is enough for me to give this kind of a probability value (obviously, very approximate).
     
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  22. LaMascarade Registered User

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    Really interesting, thank you !

    Another couple questions concerning contracts with players coming from KHL:
    - Is there a specific date where such players are allowed to start negociating contracts with the NHL team that owns their rights?
    - Or is it after their current KHL team is eliminated?
    - Or does this depends if they have been drafted and a team already own their rights (Panarin was an UFA, so contract had to be signed after july 1rst?) ?
    - Since KHL season finish earlier, and players are allowed to join their NHL team during the current season or during playoffs (Tolvanen in mind), I guess contract has to be signed really quickly or at least before playoffs starts
    - How probable is it that Gusev signs early enough and plays with a Vegas uniform in the coming playoffs?
     
  23. Caser @RUSProspects

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    Let's start with the last question: chance of that is close to 0, as SKA is expected to go far in the play-offs and after that the National Team action will start for him... not to mention that I'm not sure that Vegas would want to burn his only ELC year.

    In general, KHL contracts last until 30th of April, but if the team is out of the playoffs earlier than that, management can agree to terminate the contract earlier, so, yes, if they are quick enough they can make it in time to play in the NHL that season. Vegas are allowed to sign Gusev at any point after he is free of his contract, as they hold his rights.
     
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  24. Atas2000 Registered User

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    Negotiating with UFAs starts on 1st May. That's when all KHL contracts run out.

    A NHL contract can be signed at any time if the player is free from his contract in the KHL(by mutual termination for example).This can happen mid-season or whenever. A NHL contract has to be CBA compliant of course. That means salary cap, waiver rules and ELC rules apply. If the team is willing to burn a year of an ELC they can sign a player out of the KHL before 1st July. Or in general, signing a player before that date means he'd count against the current cap and could demand some signing boni and salary for the short stint. Not really wise with a guy like Panarin or Gusev. It is something that is an option with young prospects who are bound to the ELC and can't demand much.

    National team players will be playing in the playoffs and then for the NT at WHC in May. Gusev won't flip that for Vegas.
     
  25. Kshahdoo Registered User

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    Yeah, there is no chance, Las Vegas will burn the only Gusev's ELC year for a very questionable playoffs run, even if Nikita agrees to come early and SKA agrees to terminate the contract before April, 30th.
     

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