After considering how the latest campaign finished, the Dinamo boards decided to change the team's head coach. At first, Alexander Andriyevsky should have been at the team's helm, but in mid-May Dmitry Baskov, Dinamo's director said that the negotiations reached a stalemate. Finally, on June 14, the team announced the hiring of Craig Woodcroft. Under the Canadian coach, Dinamo had its best season in the KHL history in 2016-17, finishing the regular season as the fifth seed in the Western Conference with 105 points. Woodcroft will be assisted by the Belarusian hockey's legend Mikhail Grabovsky. The former forward played more than 500 games in the NHL, with 296 (125+171) points.
Ivan Kulbakov (try-out; Kalamazoo, ECHL)
Dmitry Milchakov (try-out; Plzen, Czech Republic)
Alexander Osipkov (Yunost, Belarus)
Jhonas Enroth (Orebro, Sweden)
Roman Dostanko (try-out; Shakhter, Belarus)
Roman Dyukov (try-out; Lada, VHL)
Yegor Ivanov (try-out; Gomel, Belarus)
Stefan Elliott (Ottawa, NHL)
Vyacheslav Gretsky (try-out; Dinamo Molodechno, Belarus)
Artyom Demkov (Shakhter, Belarus)
Dmitry Zhelnerovsky (Saryarka, VHL)
Alexander Mayavko (Neman, Belarus)
Sergei Mayavko (Neman, Belarus)
Alexander Materukhin (try-out; Yugra, VHL)
Francis Pare (Avtomobilist)
Mikhail Stefanovich (Yunost, Belarus)
Nikita Feoktistov (Admiral)
Jonathon Blum (Farjestad, Sweden)
Evgeny Lisovets (Salavat Yulaev Ufa)
Kristian Khenkel (Ak Bars Kazan)
Dmitri Buinitsky (Metallurg)
This offseason, Dinamo Minsk acquired almost twenty new players, but only nine left the team. However, the focus is mostly not on quantity, but on quality. Nearly all the players who left had a prominent role in last year's team. Who can substitute them among the new ones? Of course, one of them should be Francis Pare. The Canadian forward had a significant role with Avtomobilist last year, scoring 35 (16+19) points in Yekaterinburg. Pare looks like Dinamo's biggest signing of the current offseason. Jhonas Enroth is also another vital piece of the puzzle for the Belarusian franchise. Another move that seems very interesting is the signing of the Canadian defenseman Stefan Elliott, who has almost 100 NHL games under his belt. He's already known among the KHL audience, having represented Kazan three seasons ago.
Calling a leader a player who is yet to play his first game in his new team can sound a bit odd, but Pare should become Dinamo's locomotive in the new season. In a stacked Avtomobilist lineup, Pare scored 35 points, more than any other Dinamo forward in 2018-19. The Canadian forward showed that can both score and pass the puck, and in Minsk, he will have a chance to be the team's main star.
The 19-years-old forward started making a name for himself last year, and his 9 (1+8) points in his rookie season are an excellent achievement. Moreover, Ivan Drozdov scored his points playing for one of the lowest-scoring teams in the League. Ivan is one of the most promising among the Belarusian forwards of the new generation and this year will be very important in determining if he'll be the heir of Grabovsky and Kostitsyn brothers.
This offseason, Dinamo lost some key players, most notably blueliners Patrick Wiercioch, Evgeny Lisovets, and Kristian Khenkel. That means that the results will mostly depend on how the newly signed foreign players will show up. Dinamo's biggest bet will be on Francis Pare. The 32-years-old Canadian is in his prime, and he will be responsible for getting the fans hearing the goal song again next year. However, it looks like the boards' job on the market isn't done yet. It will be hard to assess the team's prospects for the next season due to the high personnel turnover but considering that last year Dinamo was one of the worst teams in the League, it's hard to expect that the Bisons will get to the postseason.
There is another interesting aspect to watch out, though. It will be fascinating to check whether Craig Woodcroft will repeat his past successes in Minsk and how Mikhail Grabovsky will start his coaching career.