Dynamo Moscow in 2016-17
While Dynamo Moscow were turning in their usual strong performance on the ice last season, away from the rink the drumbeat of financial difficulty was beating. In fact, the famous old team — the first-ever hockey champions of the Soviet Union back in 1946 — was late providing financial guarantees for 2016-17, bringing into question their continued participation in the KHL. However, the problems appear to have been solved, or at least solved enough for now, so read on for some comments about Dynamo’s on-ice possibilities this season.
Dynamo Moscow in 2015-16: 27 W — 8 OT/SO W — 8 OT/SO L — 17 L
4th in Tarasov Div., 5th in West Conf., 6th in KHL. Lost in Conf. SF.
Head Coach: Sergei Oreshkin.
In: D Yakov Rylov (Ak Bars Kazan); F Yegor Dugin (Admiral Vladivostok); F Lukáš Kašpar (Slovan Bratislava); F Semyon Kokuyov (Traktor Chelyabinsk); F Artyom Podshendyalov (Admiral Vladivostok); F Alexander Rybakov (Traktor Chelyabinsk); F Alexei Sopin (Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod);
Out: G Alexander Sharychenkov (Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk); D Gleb Koryagin (Lada Tolyatti); D Dmitry Sinitsyn (Lada Tolyatti); F Nikita Filatov (Lada Tolyatti); F Maxim Pestushko (Avangard Omsk Oblast)
Oh, those injuries. Dynamo have not yet played their first regular season game, but already are facing some line-up decisions. New arrival Kašpar, coming off a season in which he led Slovan Bratislava with 47 points in 58 games, will miss the team’s opening trip to the Far East, as will Dynamo’s own 2015-16 points leader, the veteran Alexei Tsvetkov (58 gp, 7-32-39). You can add highly effective defenceman Dmitry Vishnevsky to that list, too. Unfortunately, I don’t know how long any of the three will be out (if anyone has heard prognoses, the comments section and my gratitude await!), but at least for the first few games, some key pieces will be absent.
However, there are also some very nice players on the Dynamo roster. Last year’s main goaltending tandem was a good one, with Alexander Yeryomenko (.936 sv% in 23 games) and Alexander Lazushin (.926 in 29) getting most of the work. Sharychenkov struggled to an .897 sv% in 11 games, and has now departed. However, Yeryomenko and Lazushin will both return, and while there may be a passing of the torch at some point (Yeryomenko is 36, eight years older than Lazushin), Dynamo’s goaltending looks to be in good hands.
Dynamo gave up the fourth-fewest goals in the league last season (126), and it was not all down to the goaltending; there is a very good defence group here as well. Mat Robinson was third among KHL defencemen in scoring at 58 gp, 14-24-38, and he went +31 as well (second on the team in that category was forward Denis Kokarev at +22). Former Russian national team captain Ilya Nikulin is on the Dynamo blueline as well, having signed as a free agent last September and provided 6-11-17 in 35 games, and newcomer Rylov is a very solid acquisition (53 gp, 3-16-19 for Ak Bars in 2015-16). There others whom space prevents me from discussing in depth, but suffice to say this looks an excellent blueline group.
As for the forwards, we have already noted the injuries to Kašpar and Tsvetkov, and Pestushko’s departure to Avangard is a blow as well; his 15 goals in 59 games led the team. However, here again there are some things to like. Latvia’s Mārtiņš Karsums lost time last year to injury, but still managed 10-8-18 in only 34 games; a full season of health from him will be a welcome development, should it occur. The aforementioned Kokarev (59 gp, 12-14-26 and that +22) is a splendid two-way forward who can score a bit. And as with the defence, there are several other useful contributors whom I could mention. Among the new forwards (non-Kašpar division), I would particularly note Podshendyalov (second on Admiral in goals and points last season at 58 gp, 16-15-31), but they are all of the sort to provide depth in the best sense of the term. Once Tsvetkov and Kašpar return from their injuries, this is a fine forward group for the task at hand.
And “depth” may be the key word, in the end. Dynamo are very well-equipped, front to back, in the category of “genuinely good players, ” and have a real star in Robinson. Physical and financial health will play a role, to be sure, but this team ought to make the playoffs with ample room to spare and should go at least a round or two once there.
Next up: Avangard Omsk Oblast.