Admiral Vladivostok in 2016-17
For Admiral Vladivostok, the 2015-16 season was the best in the club’s three years of existence. The Far Eastern team finished with 95 points and made the playoffs comfortably in the end. However, there are some questions to be answered as the team approaches 2016-17, and the big ones have to do with the men in net. Read on…
Admiral Vladivostok in 2015-16: 25 W — 8 OT/SO W — 4 OT/SO L — 23 L
4th in Chernyshyov Div., 6th in East Conf., 13th in KHL. Lost in Conf. QFs.
Head Coach: Alexander Andriyevsky
In: G Nikita Serebryakov (Dynamo Moscow); G Maxim Tretyak (CSKA Moscow); D Ivan Glazkov (HK Sochi); D Mark Skutar (Metallurg Novokuznetsk); D Anton Volchenkov (No Team); F Maxim Kazakov (Avangard Omsk Oblast); F Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev (Barys Astana); F Robert Sabolič (Sparta Prague [CZE]); F Andrei Sigaryov (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl); F Vladimir Tkachyov (Avangard Omsk Oblast);
Out: D Denis Kosmachyov (Amur Khabarovsk); D Nikita Lisov (Avangard Omsk Oblast); F Stanislav Alshevsky (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk); F Yaroslav Alshevsky (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk); F David Booth (Unknown); F Yegor Dugin (Dynamo Moscow); F Konstantin Makarov (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk); F Artyom Podshendyalov (Dynamo Moscow); F Alexei Ugarov (Amur Khabarovsk)
Admiral’s goaltending was not a strength last season; neither Ivan Nalimov (.908 sv%) or Igor Bobkov (.910) got particularly close to the league average of about .920, and Admiral gave up the most goals (164) of any playoff team. Nonetheless, both Nalimov and Bobkov are back in Vladivostok, and the bright side is that both are young enough that improvement remains a real possibility (Nalimov is 22, Bobkov 25). The two new arrivals, meanwhile, will likely battle for the third-choice spot. Tretyak (yes, he’s Vladislav’s grandson) is still only 19, but has had unimpressive numbers in junior and the minor pros, while 20-year-old Serebryakov had a good season (.933 sv%, 13th in the league) in the VHL last year and may makes things interesting for top two. Overall, this is a young, relatively unproven, crew of goalies, and that could spell trouble.
There was a truly excellent playmaking defensive pair at work on the shores of Golden Horn Bay last season, and both Jonathan Blum (55 gp, 8-22-30) and Oskars Bārtulis (52 gp, 8-16-24) will be back in Admiral sweaters this term. Artyom Zemchyonok does not quite have the scoring prowess of those two (46 gp, 2-9-11), but does a good job in his own zone — an under-rated player. As for the newcomers, NHL fans will be interested to see Volchenkov’s name; the 34-year-old missed all of 2015-16 due to inability to find a team, but he has played nearly 800 NHL games, and is a decent bet to provide some veteran stability at the back. As for Glazkov and Skutar, they are both up-and-comers who could certainly turn out to be good acquisitions. The latter, in particular, is a promising product of Metallurg Novokuznetsk’s excellent youth system.
Up front, Admiral are now without their top two scorers from last season: Makarov (55 gp, 18-17-35) and Podshendyalov (58 gp, 16-15-31). Now, neither of those lines are eye-popping, but they are both decent enough, and so represent holes needing to be filled. And youth has once again been served in doing so. Both 23-year-old Kazakov (52 gp, 17-15-32 in 2015-16) and 20-year-old Tkachyov come loaded with skill and speed. The latter had his 2015-16 campaign ruined by injury (he went 17 gp, 5-4-9 in the VHL), but Edmonton Oilers fans will remember his wonderful performance as an undrafted training camp invitee in 2014, and the heartbreak that followed it. Sabolič looks a fine acquisition as well, having finished second in the Czech Extraliga in goals last season with 23 in 46 games. With a bit of luck, those three should be able to replace or even surpass the scoring that has departed with Makarov and Podshendyalov.
Admiral will be an entertaining team this season and should have enough firepower for another playoff visit, or at least to keep themselves solidly in the struggle for the post-season. However, until or unless one of those young goalies steps up in a big way, this is not yet a team capable of pushing for a top-four spot in the conference. And if the goaltending goes south (always a possibility with younger netminders), Admiral could find themselves in real trouble indeed.
Next up: Ak Bars Kazan.