For Torpedo, it wasn't easy to find their way after Peteris Skudra's departure. However, David Nemirovsky holds his line with pride. After winning the first four games and some up and downs, Torpedo got to the playoffs with the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, where they faced Barys. It was one of the best series of the Gagarin Cup playoffs, decided only in the third period of the seventh game – unfortunately for Torpedo, in favor of the Kazakh franchise.
For the Canadian-Russian David Nemirovsky, Torpedo was the first team that he led as the team's only head coach. Earlier he worked in Admiral as a sporting director, but he quickly decided that he wanted to work closer to the ice. Initially, he was one of Alexander Andrievsky's assistants, but after the boards decided to fire the head coach, he started leading the team with Fredrik Stillman.
Torpedo decided to gamble with a rookie head coach, but the move panned out. Nemirovsky didn't surpass Peteris Skudra in achievements but gave the fans what they wanted: a more offensive team. If the previous five years the team's credo was to play as hard as possible, with its new head coach Torpedo adopted a more attacking and combinational style, giving more chances to players that Skudra deemed too soft.
Goalie: Anders Lindback (HC Davos, Switzerland).
Defensemen: Charles Genoway (Frolunda, Sweden), Sergei Zborovsky (HC Sochi; trade), Kirill Melyakov (Sokol, VHL), Maxim Mineyev (Dynamo Moscow; trade through Avangard Omsk).
Forwards: Andrei Belevich (Dynamo Molodechno, Belarus), Stanislav Bocharov (HC Sochi), Pavel Varfolomeyev (Metallurg; trade), Alexander Gomolyako (Molot, VHL; trade through HC Sochi), Igor Levitsky (CSKA), Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Price George, WHL), German Poddubny (Erie, OHL), Quinton Howden (Dynamo Minsk; trade), Viktor Shakhvorostov (HK Sarov, VHL), Jordan Schroeder (Rockford, AHL), Paul Szczechura (Traktor).
Goalies: Barry Brust, Stanislav Galimov (Metallurg), Denis Kostin (Avangard; trade).
Defensemen: Matthew Bodie (Vaxjo, Sweden), Ilya Nazarevich (HC Sochi; trade), Philip Holm.
Forwards: Vladimir Galuzin (Metallurg), Andrew Calof (Traktor), Kirill Klopov, Akim Kolomarov (Tseng Tou), Vyacheslav Korotin, Pavel Makarenko, Andy Miele (Tucson, AHL), Denis Parshin (Metallurg), Robert Sabolic (Ambri-Piotta, Switzerland), Dmitry Semin.
If looking at all the KHL teams, you will hardly find a team who lost more forwards. Among last year's Torpedo top 10 scores, six moved on with different teams. One of them was the defenseman Philip Holm, one of the few KHL representatives for Sweden at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. Torpedo has also lost its foreign offensive troika. Moreover, they also had to part ways with Russian players. Denis Parshin and Vladimir Galushin will now use their chemistry for Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Cutting ties with Matthew Bodie and Barry Brust, Torpedo had to find a whole new foreign legion.
The new Torpedo's international squad seems very exciting. Not only Paul Szczechura and Charles Genoway already played in the KHL, but they earned a high authority doing so. Quinton Howden twice led Dinamo Minsk in points, while Jordan Schroeder and Anders Lindback will have to adapt to their new reality. However, it looks like things are doing well for Schroeder, who was recently awarded Best Forward honors at the Nizhny Novgorod Region Governor's Cup.
Finding a full-fledged replacement for Parshin and Galuzin on the Russian market was simply impossible. Torpedo will try to compensate for their departure via younger and hungrier players. Damir Zhafyarov's example of last year will give the fans the hope that German Poddubny and Pavel Varfolomeyev will be able to reanimate their career with the Torpedo jersey. Pretty much the same can be said for Igor Levitsky and Stanislav Bocharov. Moreover, Nemirovsky's offensive hockey should be a good fit for the young and offensive defensemen Sergei Zborovsky and Maxim Mineyev.
In Torpedo's modern history, there are only a few players who could become stars also outside their native city. One of them was undoubtedly Alexei Potapov, who, however, already moved on and won the Gagarin Cup with Ak Bars Kazan in 2018. Vladimir Galuzin was another example, but he moved east to Magnitogorsk. This means that Torpedo's old-new leader will be Mikhail Varnakov.
Nizhny Novgorod had at their disposal a high-performance line with Shurakov, Ilyin, and Rudenkov, who had a massive impact on Chaika's JHL triumph in 2015. However, today only Ilyin is with Torpedo. The team, however, can still count on champions Danil Veryayev and Kirill Urakov. Maxim Mineyev is a new face for the Volga-based squad, but it looks like the situation is developing the right way for him.
Andrei Skabelka entrusted Mineyev of a spot in the powerplay's units at Avangard, but as soon as Skabelka left the team, Mineyev found himself in trouble. He lined up for several organizations but couldn't find his touch with neither Severstal nor Dynamo Moscow. At 22, he has now a new chance to revitalize his career. Nemirovsky has already made it clear that creative players are more than welcome in his squad.
The "sophomore slump" is mostly referred to players, but it can apply to coaches as well. Nemirovsky had a great rookie season with Torpedo but keeping the pace won't be an easy task. He needs to show that not only the usual suspects can play offensive hockey and that his Torpedo wasn't a one-season wonder. Torpedo will not only need to launch a couple of prospects but also find a way to increase production.
And we didn't even mention the main oddity: yet another exchange of conference. Nemirovsky and co. will check if getting to the playoffs is easier in the Eastern Conference. And also, if they will finally manage to at least win the first round. Skudra tried more than once to defeat CSKA and SKA, without much success. And to add further emotions to the mix, Nemirovsky played for both the Army clubs in his career.