Weekly Russian Hockey News Notes: May 29th, 2015

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Alexander Mogilny as a Buffalo Sabre. (Image Source)

Here we begin what I hope will be new weekly thing at this blog, namely a roundup and brief discussion of some of the big stories in Russian hockey that have gone down over the past seven days!  We begin this time with a big move in the Far East, some interesting player dealings (trans-Atlantic and otherwise), and other notes.  Details, and links, below the jump!

The big news this week actually just broke today, with the announcement that former NHL great Alexander Mogilny is leaving the presidency of Admiral Vladivostok to take up the same post at the KHL’s other far eastern outpost, his hometown team Amur Khabarovsk.  Joining Mogilny on the banks of the Amur River will be Admiral’s now-former General Director Alexander Filippenko, and the Vladivostok team’s Head Coach Sergei Shepelev.  The reason for the move seems to be a spat between the Admiral management and one of the team’s major sponsors, a quarrel that has led to some doubts about whether the team will even compete in the KHL next year.  If the departures of Mogilny, Filippenko, and Shepelev go some way to getting the situation resolved, so much the better.

As for Amur, they have not yet submitted their documents for next season either, although there are encouraging signs that it is about to happen.  The arrival of Mogilny, a hometown hockey hero, probably won’t hurt matters either, at least in the short run.

Some team-shuffling in the second-tier VHL this week.  Former champions HK Rubin Tyumen have announced that they will miss next season for financial reasons, although it sounds like their junior squad and hockey school will continue, and the pro team intends to rejoin the league later on.  Sad news, but there was better to come.  The VHL in 2015-16 will welcome Zvezda Chekhov, new farm team of CSKA Moscow, and should also add the revived Khimik Voskresensk team as part of the similarly renewed Spartak Moscow club.  And SKA St. Petersburg will move their VHL farm team, SKA-Karelia, from the small town of Kondrapoga to St. Petersburg itself, where they will play as SKA-Neva.  Finally, there is an intriguing rumour that HK Partizan Belgrade, currently playing in the Serbian League, are interested in joining the Russian minor circuit, although that almost certainly will not happen until at least 2016-17 (thanks to Locria for the heads-up on that story!).

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Anton Slepyshev. (Image Source)

After the departures of such KHL notables as Steve Moses, Artemy Panarin, and Yevgeny Medvedev for North American shores this spring, there was another such move this week when Salavat Yulaev’s Anton Slepyshev signed an entry-level deal with the Edmonton Oilers, who drafted him in 2013.  The 21-year-old forward is likely destined for the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors at least for starters.

Also signing with an NHL club was Avangard Omsk’s Sergei Kalinin, who has put his name on a deal with the New Jersey Devils.  It’s wonderful to see Kalinin back on his feet, given that the last time he was in the news it was for suffering this horrific head injury (Seriously upsetting video warning) in the 2014-15 KHL playoffs.

Vladimír Sobotka, on the other hand, is staying in the KHL with Avangard (probably — this has not been 100% confirmed yet).  The St. Louis Blues were eager to bring him back into their fold, but Avangard were able to beat the $2.7M dollars per year that an NHL arbitrator awarded the Czech centreman last summer.  The Blues will likely have to try again after the 2015-16 season is over.

Despite the loss of Slepyshev, it has been a heck of an off-season so far for Salavat Yulaev.  The Bashkir club has made some excellent acquisitions, including Jokerit forward Linus Omark, goalie Niklas Svedberg from the Boston Bruins organization, and under-rated defenseman Zakhar Arzamastsev.  And they scored again this week, with the surprise signing of Igor Grigorenko from CSKA Moscow.  Grigorenko scored 45 points in 55 regular season games for the old Red Army side this past season, and followed that with a stellar 19 in 14 playoff contests.  Of course, he was lined up alongside Alexander Radulov in 2014-15, and that won’t be the case next year.  However, it’s still a great signing, and we probably have to start thinking about Salavat Yulaev as serious Gagarin Cup contenders in 2015-16.

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Alexander Radulov shows off his hockey smile while with the Russian national team. (Image Source)

Speaking of Alexander Radulov, there have been rumours this week that he will return to the NHL in 2016-17, rejoining his former junior coach, Patrick Roy, in Colorado.  The Avalanche have denied this, or at least refused to confirm it, but the situation bears watching, as Radulov’s contract with CSKA will be up after next season.  And there are further reports that Belarusan forward Andrei Kostitsyn is in talks to return to the NHL, although we await word on his potential suitors.

Another interesting signing this week involved goalie Konstantin Barulin, a long-time presence in the Russian national team, who is moving from Avangard to HK Sochi.  Barulin’s contract is reportedly a strange one — his salary is low, but will double if the Black Sea club sends him off to another team at any point in 2015-16 (thank you to Aivis Kalniņš for the info about the contract).  Obviously, Barulin would be of great help to Sochi in net, but the club has been in such financial turmoil recently that we have to wonder if they do not mean to sell him onward even before the season starts, and recoup a little bit of cash.

Former Calgary Flames forward Roman Červenka has been let go by SKA.  Although he posted a decent-enough 36 points in 55 games on a stacked team during the 2014-15 regular season, his 2-5-7 in 22 playoff games apparently caused the SKA brass to have second thoughts about keeping him around.  No word yet on where he’ll be next season, but Červenka is a good enough player that he should find a nice spot somewhere.

The entrance to the current CSKA Ice Palace. (Image Source)

And finally, a couple of teams have been talking about new arenas this past week.  CSKA Moscow have announced plans for a 15,000-20,000-seat building in the Krylatskoye district, a bit west of their current digs.  And Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast are looking to build a 14,500-seat arena, to replace their current building.  Ground has not been broken on either project, so we are a ways away yet, but it is interesting to see the plans in motion.

And that will do for this week, I think!  In the coming week, we may or may not get resolution of some of the questions concerning team participation in the 2015-16 season.  And we will also look for some clues as to the destinations of players like Sergei Plotnikov, Alexander Burmistrov, and Sergei Kalinin, all of whom are said to be investigating North American options.  We will round that all up next Friday, plus whatever else occurs in the coming days, and in the meantime there will be other material here, so please do check back!

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Posted on May 30, 2015, in 2015-16, KHL, VHL, Weekly News Notes. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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