|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on September 27, 2012 at 7:55 PM|
Junaid Hussain continues his exploration of the KHL with a look at which NHL players have moved to the Russian League.
While the NHL is dealing with the lockout, trying to get to grips on how it has come to this again, the rest of Europe is basking in glory especially the KHL. In 2004 – 05 many of the top Eastern European players went back home and played in the Russian league, like Datysuk and Ovechkin who helped Dynamo Moscow to the league title. Fast forward to 2012 where many of the same players are returning home.
We have already seen some major signings in the KHL, including Mettalurg Magnitogorsk who were out the blocks quickly with the signings of Malkin, who returns to the team that he started with. They have also signed Sergei Gonchar and Nikoli Kulemin of the Sens and Leafs respectfully. Evgeni Malkin has already made an impact with a couple of assists to his name.
St.Petersburg was able to capture the star player of the NJ Devils, Ilya Kovalchuck. A major signing for a team who were struggling slightly in the league. Kovalchuck will bring much needed goals to the team. They also signed Russian prospect Tarasenko who was ready to make the leap to the NHL with the Blues this season.
Dynamo Moscow welcomed a home a hero in Alex Ovechkin, who grew up playing for the team. He also returned in the 2004-05 season, leading the team to a league title. This time his impact has already been felt with 2 assists and a goal in 3 games and as he gets used to the bigger ice, expect Moscow to be a big threat for the KHL title.
Datysuk and Bryzgalov joined up with CSKA Moscow. Datsyuk was initially touted to join Ovechkin in Moscow but decided to join CSKA instead. They also have the highly rated Alexander Radulov who briefly made an appearance for the Predators in the NHL playoffs last season. If Radulov and Datsyuk are able to click, and Bryzgalov is able to catch some of his late season form, this team is a serious threat to anyone in the league.
The no.1 pick in the draft Nail Yakupov joined Neftekimik, having already played two games for the team. However, he is now unable to play for them because Hockey Canada refused to sign off on his transfer card as he still has junior eligibility with the Sarnia Sting. The Stings would much rather he played for them and not in Russia. As a result, the IIHF fined the Russian Hockey Federation $5,000 but they could receive an even stronger punishment if he plays anymore games.
Finally the biggest surprise came in the news of Alexander Semin, who is “known” as a diva in the NHL, who joined his hometown team Sokol Krasnoyarsk in the VHL (2nd tier of Russian hockey) and playing for FREE! That’s right for free. It’s a huge gesture from Semin, who wanted to repay the team who helped him to become the player he is today.
Looking at the league as a whole, Ak Bars Kazan lead the league overall with one loss to its name after 10 games played thus far in the regular season. HC Lev Praha who joined this season, currently sit second overall in the standings. Hockey Club Yugra who have only won one game this season sits dead last, on it’s own, at the bottom of the standings.