Players of Interest Update: Sept. 1, 2016
Last week I trotted out my choices for the little team of players I’ll be following particularly closely in 2016-17 (you can read that post here), and now it is time for the first update on that merry band. It was a week of mixed fortunes: very good for our defencemen, a bit inconclusive for our forwards, and… we’ll talk about the goaltending. Read on!
- G Igor Shestyorkin (SKA St. Petersburg).
- Season to date (KHL): 1 gp, .556 sv%, 23.72 GAA.
Well, those are some ugly numbers; the young goalie conceded four goals on nine shots in the first ten minutes of Tuesday’s game against Ak Bars Kazan, and then was understandably pulled by head coach Oleg Znarok. The third of those goals, which hit Shestyorkin in the body then wriggled under his arm and into the net, was particularly wince-worthy. In his defence, however, all four goals against came with SKA down a man thanks to Yevgeny Ketov’s rash five-minute penalty for kneeing. There will be better days.
And SKA are clearly not worried; on Thursday they signed the 20-year-old netminder to a three-year contract extension that will keep him on the team’s books until after the 2019-2020 season. What that means for the New York Rangers, who drafted Shestyorkin in 2014, remains a bit unclear, but if I am reading Article 10.2 (b) of NHL CBA correctly (note the “if”!), the Rangers will at least have right to match any NHL contract offer made to him until he is 27.
- D Kirill Koltsov (Traktor Chelyabinsk)
- Season to date (KHL): 4gp, 3-0-3, +5, 2 PiM, 11 SoG, 19:08 ToI/Gm.
Those numbers aren’t ugly at all. Koltsov is tied for the league lead in plus-minus and in goals by defencemen at this early juncture, and the Traktor brass must be feeling pretty happy. He’s been efficient, as well; two of his three goals have been overtime winners (one on opening day against SKA, and another on Wednesday against Avtomobilist). No assists yet for a guy with a great reputation for making plays, but those will come in time. Traktor, after missing the playoffs in 2015-16, are 3-1 to start the current campaign, and that will make everyone smile too.
- D Adam Polášek (Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast)
- Season to date (KHL): 3 gp, 0-4-4, +4, 2 PiM, 4 SoG, 20:26 ToI/Gm.
Another fellow doing well right out of the gate, as Polášek recorded three helpers in a 5-1 whomping of Barys Astana last Thursday. Again, very early days, but he’s tied for second in the league in points by defenceman and for third in the league in assists. An excellent start on his quest to be the successor of Patrik Hersley and Igor Ozhiganov in the Sibir defence.
- F Anatoly Golyshev (Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg)
- Season to date (KHL): 5 gp, 1-1-2, -2, o PiM, 11 SoG, 16:14 ToI/Gm.
A little bit of a slow start for Golyshev, but only a little. The 21-year-old is shooting about as much as he normally does, and the percentages should come around in time. If he still sitting at 0.4 Pts./Gm. in a couple of weeks, we can start to worry then.
- F Linus Omark (Salavat Yulaev Ufa)
- Season to date (KHL): 4 gp, 0-3-3, Even, o PiM, 8 SoG, 15:48 ToI/Gm.
Three points in four games is just fine, although Omark is now without a goal in his last twelve KHL matches going back to last season’s playoffs. He could probably stand to shoot the puck more, as five of his eight attempts on goal this season came in Salavat Yulaev’s opening-day win over Severstal Cherepovets. Two of Salavat Yulaev’s games have been against SKA and CSKA, both on the road, which won’t help the numbers either (The team from Ufa lost both, and was outscored 10-2). Much like with Golyshev, there is no need to worry about Omark just yet.
- F Sakari Salminen (Jokerit Helsinki)
- Season to date (KHL): 3 gp, 0-2-2, Even, 2 PiM, 6 SoG, 16:32 ToI/Gm.
If it weren’t for bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all. Salminen’s two assists in three games represent a decent enough start, but he would have a couple of goals to his name as well if it were not for an unhelpful crossbar and an even less-helpful opposing goalie during Jokerit’s 3-2 loss to the HK Sochi last Thursday. Not only did he have the unfortunate miss that you see above, but he was later robbed at point-blank range by Sochi netminder Konstantin Barulin. However, as noted, he is doing fine so far, and is obviously getting his chances. Salminen and his team-mates are currently in the midst of a ten-day break to allow Jokerit’s sizeable Danish contingent to compete in the Olympic qualifying tournament, so we will not see him in action again until next Tuesday.
To sum it all up: I think we are still waiting and seeing about our forwards, while our two defenceman are off to great starts. As for our young goalie, it was a week of extremes: utterly horrendous on the ice, but very pleasant off of it!