Vityaz is having a rocky season so far, but hardly anyone can blame its imports. Daniel Audette, Miro Aaltonen, and Niko Ojamaki are in the league’s top-five for scoring. Miks Indrasis accumulated a respectable 9 (3+6) points in 17 games, and Valtteri Kemilainen is still the team’s top-scoring defenseman even though he has only seven appearances so far. Vityaz is currently the eleventh seed in the West, but fear not — only two points separate the Moscow Region side from the playoff line. However, they must somehow fix their defense — their 52 allowed goals are the worst result in the West and trail only Kunlun Red Star and Admiral, who conceded 58 and 57, respectively.
Daniel Audette was born on May 6, 1996, in Blainville, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal. He’s the son of Donald, a forward in the NHL between the 90s and the 2000s who was an All-Star in 2001 and lined up for more than 800 NHL games.
Audette was drafted into the QMJHL by the Sherbrooke Phoenix in their inaugural season — the Phoenix are one of the most recent franchises in the league. The forward was very productive for the Phoenix, and after his rookie season in Sherbrooke he was called to Team Canada for the 2013 Hlinka Memorial tournament when he won the gold medal. Later that year, he was drafted in the NHL by the Montreal Canadiens. However, differently from his father, Audette never got a real chance in the NHL and spent his whole North American pro career in the AHL, first with the St. John’s IceCaps, then with the Laval Rocket, and lastly with the Springfield Thunderbirds. After five seasons in the AHL, Audette opted to move overseas and signed with Lukko in the Finnish Liiga.
Daniel Audette signed a one-year deal with Lukko in May 2020 and let the Liiga side to their first title in 2021 spring. Audette led Lukko in scoring with 50 (13+37) points in 60 regular-season games, then he added another four helpers en route to the Rauma side’s first title. The team’s second scorer was today’s Severstal defenseman Robin Press.
However, after a very successful first year in Finland, Audette didn’t renew his ties with Lukko, and Vityaz soon announced his signing. Audette found a common language with the rest of Vityaz players right away and has already established a record for the Moscow Region franchise. Last week, he set a new club record when his helper in Friday’s 1-3 loss in Novosibirsk got his productive run to eleven games. The previous best was set by forward Gleb Klimenko, in the inaugural KHL campaign.
Now, Audette needs to help Vityaz returning to win and get back in playoff position. His production will be key for the Yury Babenko men, who just need a bit more consistency and defensive play to return on the right side of the playoff line.