So many world-class players made it to this award, like Alexander Radulov (six times) or Igor Shestyorkin, thus inspirating all other league’s players to fall in this exclusive circle. This year, at the Closing Ceremony, a new All-Star team has been picked, with many first timers.
Ivan Fedotov, CSKA
The Moscow side’s goalie had a breakout season after a promising 2020-2021 campaign in Chelyabinsk. The large-framed netminder first helped Team Russia getting home with a silver medal in Beijing, then he led CSKA to its second Gagarin Cup triumph in a heated, seven-game series with Metallurg. Moreover, the Muscovites achieved their goal while being down 3-1 after four games. Fedotov backstopped CSKA to three straight wins, saving 37, 26, and 42 shots, respectively. Only in game three, when Metallurg had a crushing, 4-0 victory, did Fedotov sit on the bench for a mere five minutes in the dying moments, allowing Sweden’s Adam Reideborn having his debut — and only game — in this year’s playoffs. For his efforts, Fedotov was deservedly awarded Goalie of the Year, and was the second CSKA goalie to get this prize after Ilya Sorokin back in 2015-2016.
Two of the top KHL defensemen — it’s not a surprise that their teams made it to the Gagarin Cup finals and their confrontation on the blue line was one of the finest in the Grand Finals. The Metallurg’s captain had a little more production in the playoffs, with 15 (2+13) points against Nesterov’s 11 (3+8). However, Nesterov can claim the grand prize as he lifted the Gagarin Cup for the second time, and he also netted Game One’s game winner. Yakovlev also showed an excellent game in the elimination stage.
If taking the whole season, the CSKA veteran had the second-most points and assists among all the league’s defenseman, trailing only Traktor’s Nick Bailen. Yakovlev lays a little bit behind in points, but he played the most games in the season, with an impressive 72 appearances for Metallurg. They were also among the best in the plus/minus category. While Metallurg’s Artyom Minulin made it to the top with a plus-26 rating, Nesterov had a plus-22 differential, while Yakovlev was plus-20. The CSKA defenseman is at his second inclusion in the post-season All-Star team, while Yakovlev is a first timer.
If CSKA had two representatives among goalies and defensemen, only Nikolai Goldobin made it to the team among the two finalists. And that despite CSKA featuring the playoffs MVP Alexander Popov and Metallurg having the top three postseason scorers in Goldobin, Philippe Maillet, and Brendan Leipsic. However, hardly Vadim Shipachyov could miss a place in the team — he was prized as the season’s MVP and finished the 2021-2022 campaign as the league’s top scorer for the third straight time. The Dynamo captain, however, will spend the next season with another team as he signed with Ak Bars Kazan in this offseason.
SKA’s Kuzmenko is another player who had a breakout season — he posted a career-high 53 (20+33) points in the regular season, adding another 14 (7+7) in the elimination stage, which for SKA ended in the Western finals against CSKA. Kuzmenko increased his scoring in each of his last four seasons, and ranked up until he became a key figure for the St. Petersburg team.
Goldobin is another player who had a strong improvement this year. He, like Kuzmenko, played for CSKA in the past, but a trade sent him to the Southern Urals in 2020-2021. With Metallurg, Goldobin found his own team, and was one of Magnitka’s leading forces throughout the season. The Moscow native had 39 (16+23) points in the regular season, and posted another 18 (8+10) in 23 playoff games. For both Kuzmenko and Goldobin, it was their first appearance in the post-season All-Star team.