From HV71 to Sibir Novosibirsk
It’s not the first year that Sibir resorts to the Nordic market in their efforts to improve their team. This time, the Novosibirsk franchise ended the regular season as the ninth seed of the Eastern Conference — definitely not enough for the fans and the management, especially after making it to the second round in 2020. To try and return to the playoffs, Sibir signed the Swedish forward Anton Wedin. The 28-years-old native of Sundsvall had an excellent season last time around with HV71. Still, he only has three full-time seasons in the Swedish top-flight league under his belt, having spent most of his career with Timra in the second-tier Swedish championship. However, the Sibir’s new forward lined up for four games in the NHL in 2019-2020 with the Chicago Blackhawks and had a decent showing in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. Signing Wedin, Sibir has now four imports under contract, with Harri Sateri, Jyrki Jokipakka, and Eric O’Dell returning after last year’s campaign.
From Karpat Oulu to Dinamo Minsk
After losing starting netminder Dominik Furch, the Belarusian franchise opted to sign an experienced goalie from the Finnish Liiga, Patrik Rybar. In the latest two years, he was one of the best goalies in the top-flight Finnish league, posting eight shutouts in those two seasons and both times ending with a winning record. After playing in his native Slovakia and the Czech Republic (and acting as a third-string goalie at the 2018 Olympics), Rybar tried the North American adventure, playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL with Sibir’s Harri Sateri for one season before signing with Karpat. In Dinamo Minsk, the 27-years-old netminder will have a chance to develop further, helping the Bisons reaching the playoffs again. Interestingly enough, Rybar’s father also played in Russia and Belarus in 2006-2007.
From JYP to Severstal Cherepovets
Seeing good players moving up from the Liiga to the KHL is no news, but an Estonian player is a novelty. Earlier on, a few players from the Baltic country played in the JHL and were involved in the Jokerit system, but no one made it to the KHL. Rooba had a breakout season in 2020-2021, ending up as the league’s second goal-scorer with 30 tallies in 59 games in his fifth season with JYP. The Tallinn native will add size and goal-scoring ability to Andrei Razin’s lineup, and it will be interesting to see how he will fare in a new environment and league. His follow countryman Kristjan Kombe is announced in Jokerit’s roster for 2021-2022.
Sign with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg
Once again, the Motormen didn’t have their best showing in the playoffs, and this time they decided to sign new foreign players to help the franchise having a deeper run in the postseason. Genoway, Holzer, Holland, and Sexton left the team, while new international players joined the Bill Peters’ troop. Of the three mentioned players, only Patrice Cormier will take an import spot since Jesse Blacker and Shane Prince will represent Kazakhstan and Belarus on the international stage, respectively. Prince had a fantastic season in Minsk last year, while Cormier and Blacker probably needed a new challenge to revitalize their careers. Cormier had a good run in the playoffs with Ak Bars, but his production went downhill after producing 40 (18+22) points for Barys in his first season in the KHL. It looks like Avtomobilist will have another strong roster for the 2021-2022 campaign, and they only have two import slots taken by goalie Jakub Kovar and Cormier.
Sign with Jokerit
The Finnish franchise decided to make a few sound signings at the start of the transfer window, bringing to their arena five high-caliber players that will certainly have a big impact on the team next season. Philip Holm lined up for Metallurg last year, while the other players are all at their debut in the KHL, having played in Switzerland (Teemu Turunen and Petteri Linbohm), Finland (Hannes Bjorninen), and Sweden (Janne Juvonen) before. There are little doubts about the qualities of the newly-signed players — or better, no doubts at all. However, what is needed to be seen is if they will be able to succesfully replace the players that left Jokerit in the offseason. Veteran defenseman Sami Lepisto left the team after four seasons with the Jokers. Goalie Janis Kalnins lacked a bit of consistency, but he had many fantastic games with Jokerit, especially in the 2019-2020 campaign. It won’t be easy for Lauri Marjamaki to get all these new players to gel with each other and find a common language on the ice.
From Assat to Dinamo Riga
Signing Sebastian Wannstrom, the Latvian franchise secured last year’s top goal-scorer in the Liiga. With 33 goals, the 30-years-old forward potted three more than Rooba to secure the Aarne Honkavaara trophy, won twice by Swedish players in the latest three seasons. Wannstrom has a long resume under his belt, having played in Sweden, Finland, and North America, and his versatility will be certainly appreciated by the team’s new head coach, Sergei Zubov. Will a new coach and new players enough for Riga to return to the playoffs after all these years of absence?