From CSKA to Lokomotiv
Time passes by, but the terms “Sergei Andronov” and “CSKA captain” always seem to be synonyms. The forward took over the cherished patch from Denis Denisov after the veteran defenseman left the Moscow club in 2017. Andronov has been in control of the team’s locker room for five seasons. His name is associated with the main victories of the Moscow club. And along with Ivan Telegin, who left CSKA a year before Andronov, they were the embodiment of that recognizable style. Last season, even though Sergei won his second league title, his contribution to the Gagarin Cup was not a key player’s one. Moving to Yaroslavl, the experienced center needs to reboot and also help the Railwaymen make that final step in the playoffs. It seems that Lokomotiv lacked just such a winning personality for its championship mosaic.
From Avangard to Dynamo Moscow
There were five centers on the Russian national team’s golden roster at the 2018 Olympics. All but Pavel Datsyuk, whose status remains undetermined, switched teams this offseason. Vadim Shipachyov left Moscow for Kazan, Andronov left the capital for Yaroslavl, Nikolai Prokhorkin returned to SKA, and his former Avangard teammate Ilya Kablukov just moved to Dynamo. Some may think that because of his position, Kablukov is a direct substitute for Shipachyov. After all, they are both Olympic champions. And unlike Shipachyov, Kablukov played every game in Pyeongchang from start to finish. Even in his prime, however, Ilya was never very productive. Rather, he was arguing with Andronov for his unofficial status as the KHL’s top defensive center. There is no doubt that this is the role that Alexei Kudashov, who worked with the forward in St. Petersburg, sees Kablukov in.
From Dynamo Moscow to SKA
Ruslan Pedan returned to Amur after a couple of months of playing in the Czech Republic. His older brother also changed the team. Andrei Pedan spent just a year in Dynamo Moscow. Last summer, Pedan senior returned to the club which he played for in his childhood. However, he was not destined to win the Gagarin Cup with the Blue-and-Whites, or at least to finish his contract. The Muscovites, who proclaimed a new course on less-established players and development of their own youngsters, traded one of their key defenders after Vadim Shipachyov and Vyacheslav Voynov. In contrast to the deal with Ak Bars, however, the Muscovites received a player from SKA. Dynamo Moscow added Belarusian forward Alexander Skorenov who spent most of last season in the VHL.
From Dynamo Moscow to SKA
Not only did Pedan take the Moscow-St. Petersburg route, but also forward Artyom Fyodorov. In this case, however, there was no trade as the forward dissolved his contract with the Blue-and-Whites to sign with SKA. What didn’t suit Fyodorov to the Dynamo management? Stats don’t lie: 1 goal in 17 regular-season games and the same quantity in three playoff games. There are objective reasons why the nimble forward could not make a successful comeback to Dynamo after four years. First and foremost, he had an injury which forced him to miss more than half of the regular season. And while he was spending time in the infirmary, his place in the second unit was taken by the young Dmitry Rashevsky. His new club will also make it difficult for Fyodorov to break into the top 6, but he has one advantage over his competition. The SKA’s newly signed player is just the second right-hand forward in Roman Rotenberg’s roster. The St. Petersburg franchise will certainly try out Fyodorov as one of its powerplay weapons. At least as an option.
From Neftekhimik to SKA
If the signing of Fyodorov involves little risk and the hope of recharging an injury-prone player, the trade with Neftekhimik looks winnable, whichever way you look at it. Marat Khairullin is a forward at an excellent age. By his 26, he has become Neftekhimik’s captain and one of the top lots on the KHL transfer market. Not only did the SKA new player improved his performance each season, but he’s no stranger to hard-working areas. Khairullin was one of the leaders for the Nizhnekamsk team in blocked shots and hits, something that top scorers can rarely boast. With his performance with the Russian national team Marat showed toe be not a one-day hero, able to show his class only in his native team. In May games against Belarus, the future SKA forward became a true leader of the national team. Even if considering the level of competition, that says something.
From Torpedo to SKA
After Torpedo failed to make the playoffs, scouts and managers of other teams might have been disappointed with the Nizhny Novgorod club’s players. But everything turned out just the opposite. Sochi traded for Artur Tyanulin, Lokomotiv acquired Ivan Chekhovich, and Damir Zhafyarov moved to SKA. For the last two offseasons, Zhafyarov’s representatives didn’t hide that the productive forward was considering options on both sides of the ocean. He failed to find a job in the NHL, however, and there were no clubs in the KHL were willing to pay big money for Damir. However, as soon as the diminutive forward entered the market of unrestricted free agents, a transfer war broke out for him, which St. Petersburg franchise managed to win. After losing Anton Burdasov and Andrei Kuzmenko, and not yet having agreed on a new contract with leading forward Nikita Gusev, SKA desperately needed a top-end winger for the first two lines. For Zhafyarov, the move to the Northern Capital is a chance to prove that he can be not only the king of the regular season, but also the king of the playoffs.
From Ak Bars to Torpedo
Torpedo’s management had to somehow compensate for the departure of Zhafyarov, Chekhovich, and Tyanulin. Maxim Gafurov’s first serious step in this direction was a trade with Ak Bars. The Nizhny Novgorod club bought out Nikolai Kovalenko, for whom the Kazan club had paid cash compensation to Lokomotiv a year earlier. Why did Ak Bars part with the young forward so easily? In part, it can be perceived as a cleanup of the roster and payroll after the acquisitions of Shipachyov and Voynov. Fourteen points in 29 games won’t guarantee an exclusion from trade lists, either. But first of all, it’s needed to remember that Kovalenko came to Ak Bars to play under Dmitry Kvartalnov, who once gave him a chance in Yaroslavl. Kvartalnov left the team, and so did Kovalenko. His move to Torpedo is interesting not only because he will be one of the main weapons in the hands of Igor Larionov, who will be at his first venture as a club’s head coach. Moreover, Nikolai will play for the team who launched his father’s career. True, Kovalenko senior managed to play only a few games for the senior team. At least in this, the son will probably surpass his father.
From Karpat to Avangard
Until recently, the goalie tandem of Hrubec and Demchenko, with whom Avangard finished last season, seemed unshakable. However, despite his current contract with the Hawks, the Czech goalie, who won the Gagarin Cup last year, did not make it to Omsk. Dmitry Ryabykin thus suddenly lost his projected starting netminder. Finding a good replacement for him, given the current uncertainty with foreign players and the shortage of Russian goalies is simply impossible. In this difficult situation, Hawks’ GM Alexei Volkov decided return to Russia of the domestic goalkeepers who spent last term in Europe. At one time Stanislav Galimov was CSKA’s number one, but last season, the 34-year-old goalie played with Karpat of the Finnish Liiga. His career overlap with another Avangard goalie is interesting. In the 2019-2020 season, Galimov replaced Demchenko in goal for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and now they will be partners.