G, Sweden. 52 games, save percentage 94.5, GAA 1.17
With Ilya Sorokin at the club, it’s not easy for another goalie to make an impact. Yet Lars Johansson has demonstrated that he’s more than just an understudy. The Swede, 32, sees plenty of game time alongside his Russian international colleague and has posted some of the best numbers in the KHL. Indeed, his stats over his two seasons with the Army Men are better than anyone else in the history of the league, if we exclude goalies with barely a handful of appearances. Throw in a Gagarin Cup triumph, and it’s easy to see why this Avasta native has been a big hit since leaving the AHL to come to Moscow in 2017. Johansson is set to continue with CSKA in the coming season.
D, Canada. 132 games, 50 (18+32) points
When Dynamo Moscow hit financial troubles two summers ago, CSKA got an unexpected bonus. Mat Robinson became available for a trade and was happy to move across the Russian capital, bringing his productive play to the Army Men’s blue line. Since then, he’s gone on to establish himself as the top scoring defensive import at CSKA while picking up an Olympic bronze medal and a Gagarin Cup to add to his Norwegian championship win with Sparta Sarpsborg back in 2011. Robinson, now 33, arrived in the KHL to play for Dinamo Riga in 2013. That season saw him win the KHL’s ‘Gentleman’ award and his 27 points in 54 regular season games earned him a move to Dynamo. Three seasons in Blue-and-White brought a first All-Star call before the cross-town move to CSKA and career highlights for club and country.
F, Slovenia. 187 games, 117 (42+75) points
Jan Mursak was already established as a key part of Slovenia’s national team – and a Calder Cup champion in the AHL – by the time he arrived in the KHL for the 2013/14 season. He began that campaign with Amur, went to the Sochi Olympics with Slovenia and finished up at CSKA for his first, brief, look at the playoffs. However, his first full season with the Army Men was much more on point. His 43-point haul in regular season would have garnered far more attention had he not been playing on the same roster as the prolific Alexander Radulov (71 points) and Stephane Da Costa (62). Nonetheless, it was Mursak’s best return in his KHL career as CSKA powered to the regular season title, and the form continued in the playoffs with a further 10 points in 16 games. The Slovene, comfortable on the wing or in the center, stayed for two more seasons and remains the second highest-scoring import in the club’s KHL history. Now 31, he is playing with Bern in the Swiss NLA, where he won a championship medal last season.
F, Canada. 74 games, 53 (15+38) points
Linden Vey has only had one season at CSKA so far – but what a season! Arriving after a year with Barys, the former Vancouver Canuck rattled up 53 points to help the Army Men lift the Gagarin Cup for the first time. Quick to settle in Moscow, Vey wasted little time in making an impact: his CSKA debut brought a goal and an assist in a 3-0 win at Traktor; game two saw him pot the only goal in a 1-3 loss in Yekaterinburg. From then on, the points flowed freely. A regular presence on CSKA’s top line, Vey often provided the ammunition for Mikhail Grigorenko while chipping in with a few valuable markers of his own. The 28-year-old is set to continue in Moscow next season and, if he continues to score at a similar rate, could be the club’s top scoring KHL import by the end of it.
F, France. 133 games, 124 (61+63) points
When Stephane Da Costa lined up with Alexander Radulov in the 2014/15 season, the magic started happening fast. Between them, they produced 133 points in the regular season, terrorizing defenses at will and helping to clinch the regular season title. It wasn’t quite enough to triumph in the playoffs – a Conference final loss to SKA denied CSKA on that occasion – but it set a new standard for the Army Men’s offense. It also set Da Costa, one of the top stars of French hockey, on his way to becoming CSKA’s top scoring import. Two further campaigns in Moscow followed, but injuries reduced his impact and he managed just 48 appearances in those two regular seasons. The points continued to flow, however, with 34 in those injury hit spells plus a further 20 in the playoffs. After leaving CSKA, Da Costa went to Switzerland but returned to the KHL last season with Avtomobilist. In Yekaterinburg he proved that his form and fitness were undimmed and next season the 30-year-old Parisian will play for Lokomotiv.