The Ural club has raised eyebrows this summer with some high-profile transfer targets – including a rumored homecoming for Yekaterinburg-born forward Alexei Yashin – and the news that Afanasenkov and Holt have put pen to paper gives substance to claims that the perennial underdogs are hoping for some bite in the coming campaign.
Holt has been a key member of the Dinamo Riga roster over the past two seasons, and in a relatively underpowered team his numbers – 91.7% saves, 2.45 co-efficient – have been creditable. Meanwhile Afanasenko lifted the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay. He returned to Russia in 2007, and had just over two seasons at Dynamo Moscow before moving on to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and then Traktor Chelyabinsk. He returns to the Russian game after a season in Switzerland.
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl returns to KHL action this season, and the club has been actively rebuilding after last year’s trauma. Finnish forward Niklas Hagman is the latest player to sign up for Loko, returning to Europe after 800 NHL appearances for Florida, Dallas, the Leafs, the Flames and finally Anaheim Ducks. Hagman joins fellow Finn Sami Lapisto in crossing the Atlantic: the 27-year-old defenseman spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. A third NHL signing, goaltender Curtis Sanford, comes to Yaroslavl after 108 appearances as a squad player in Vancouver, St Louis and Columbus.
The future of Mikhail Anisin remains unclear: negotiations over a new contract at Dynamo Moscow seem to have broken down, according to Sovietsky Sport, with the club unwilling to meet the player’s demands. The player’s father, Vyacheslav, told the paper that if there was no other option, Mikhail was willing to go and play in the US rather than remain in Russia.
Meanwhile Anisin’s former club, Vityaz Chekhov, has moved to replace the talented young forward with CSKA’s emerging star Vyacheslav Kulyomin. The 22-year-old already has 129 KHL appearances under his belt, and was a key member of the MHL-winning Krasnaya Armiya side of 2011, with 13 points in that play-off campaign.