Prodigal son
Daniil Markov is on his way back to Vityaz, and it is a huge boost for the Moscow Region club. Last season the experienced defenseman ended up at SKA and swiftly became one of the team’s leading players. Many believe former Petersburg boss Vaclav Sykora’s biggest mistake was not selecting Markov for the crucial Game 7 against Atlant. Milos Riha has shown no interest in the veteran and so Daniil has returned to Vityaz.

Last year the 35-year-old played 45 games and scored 13 points for the Chekhov team. Before that he enjoyed two seasons with Dynamo Moscow, where his statistics were 66 outings, 8 goals, and 13 assists in the regular championship.

First test for Severstal
The Cherepovets men are currently training in Finland, and have played their first friendly game of the preseason. Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team faced Finn outfit KooKoo and the coaches fielded a mixed line-up. Severstal started with Kiselevich – Yegorshev, Panshin – Kazakovtsev – Stolyarov. The first period finished with the score at 1-1, with Maxim Trunev scoring for Severstal. In the second period Nikolai Kazakovtsev gave the Russian team the lead, after which Vadim Tarasov was replaced in goal by Roman Smiryagin. In the final period Gennady Stolyarov converted a penalty shot to give Severstal a 3-1 victory.

Foreign legion
Johan Fransson will not be playing for SKA this season. According to the club’s general manager, Alexei Kasatonov, after the first stage of preseason training the Swedish defenseman asked to allow him to return to Sweden, saying that due to family reasons it would be difficult for him to keep playing far from home. Johan spent one season in Saint Petersburg, enjoyed 38 outings in the regular championship and averaged 21 minutes 33 seconds on the ice. His account stands at 6 goals and 10 assists, but earned a rather modest efficiency rating of +5. Johan played 11 times in the play-offs, during which he assisted on two goals.

Exotic import
Various foreign media are claiming that Avtomobilist are poised to sign Arpad Mihaly, the finest in a new generation of Romanian hockey players. He spent last season playing in Hungary and appeared in the Austrian Open Championship, which is contested by teams from Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. Mihaly has impressive statistics: 88 points (37 +51) in 99 games. The forward has also played in Italy and in minor leagues in North America. To date, there has not been a single Romanian player in the KHL.

No longer wanted
And yet more news from Yekaterinburg: the club has parted company with forward Valery Khlebnikov, who played 53 games for Avtomobilist last season and amassed 17 points (9+8). Valery spent the first two seasons of the KHL at Novokuznetsk Metallurg and in 76 outings scored 9 goals and made 21 assists.

Figure of the day
Spartak’s official website tells us that over the course of the first stage of training in Slovakia the team ran more than 100 kilometers and lifted 85 tones of weights. Moreover, these statistics do not count relay races, and nor do they include games on grass or ice.

Minus two stars
Dinamo Riga defenseman Kristaps Sotnieks will miss Wednesday’s friendly against Sibir, and will also miss two weeks of training. He underwent a complex operation and now needs time to recuperate. Last season Kristaps had 45 outings for the Riga men, scoring 8 points (2+6). Also missing from the Riga ranks against the Novosibirsk men will be Sandis Ozolins. The veteran has no problems with injuries, but the coaches wanted to allow the defenseman to take a rest.

Rumors
Media reports in Kazakhstan have announced that another Kazakh team wishes to play in the KHL. The potential candidate is a club from Almata, bearing the city’s name. The only problem appears to be the finances, but the club leadership will try to solve this in the very near future. Almaty is an extremely young club, only making its professional league debut last season and finishing second from bottom of the national championship.

Quote of the day
“I won't try to say the name of my new team yet. I don’t think I can do it,” Metallurg Novokuznetsk new arrival Brent Sopel.

Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru

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