Defenseman Maxim Chudinov, a three-time Gagarin Cup winner and 2014 World Champion is back on the ice after missing last season. The 32-year-old Cherepovets native has joined Ak Bars. That move reunites him with Oleg Znarok, who coached Chudinov to Gagarin Cup success in St. Petersburg in 2017 as well as selecting him for Team Russia in that golden tournament in Minsk. Most recently, Chudinov played for Avangard, featuring in Bob Hartley’s championship roster in 2020-2021.
American defenseman Nick Ebert, who played for Slovan in 2017-2018, is another player coming back to the KHL. He’s signed a two-year deal with Avtomobilist, having played the last two seasons in Sweden with Orebro. In his previous spell in Bratislava, Ebert, now 28, had 19 (7+12) points in 44 games. Avto also confirmed a two-year deal with forward Anatoly Golyshev. He was limited to just six games last season after returning to Russia from a spell with the Islanders organization and is back at he club he’s represented since 2013.
The NHL draft saw three Russian players taken in the first round. Of them, Danila Yurov is best known to KHL fans. The right winger made his debut for Metallurg last season, and ultimately featured in 21 regular season games and 19 playoff outings for Ilya Vorobyov’s team. He was taken at #24 by the Wild.
Left winger Ivan Miroshnichenko, whose hockey progress was slowed by his successful battle with Hodgkin Lymphoma. His diagnosis in March 2022 ended his VHL season with Omskiye Krylya. Since then, three months of treatment in Germany forced the cancer into remission and enabled the 18-year-old to return to the ice. He was chosen at #20 by the Capitals.
The first Russian to be picked was Pavel Mintyukov. The former Dynamo youth product was taken by the Ducks at #10. The defenseman played the last two seasons in the OHL with Saginaw. In total, 25 Russian-born players were selected at the 2022 draft in Montreal as well as one Belarusian, goalie Ivan Zhigalov.
Sibir is set to open its new home in Novosibirsk this fall – and last week saw another significant milestone in the development. For the first time, test ice could be laid in the main arena as construction continues apace. The work, carried out by the regional government, remains on schedule for its opening during the coming campaign.
Missing your hockey fix? Fear not. There’s barely two weeks to go before the first pre-season action of the summer. The first scheduled game sees Avangard take on its farm club, Omskiye Krylya, on July 27. That game will be played at the Avangard Academy in Omsk. The next day, July 28, Vityaz faces Admiral and Dinamo Minsk plays Sibir. The first summer tournament is due to start on Aug. 3 when the Sochi Hockey Open gets underway.
The upcoming KHL campaign will feature 68 games for each team in the regular season. As a result, one of the league’s more unlikely records may finally fall. American forward Matt Anderson is hardly the most illustrious import to come to Russia, but in 2014-2015 he managed to play 63 games in the regular season. His achievement is all the more impressive, considering that each team played just 60 games that year. The secret, of course, is that the center was traded partway through the campaign, playing 35 times for Medvescak before joining Neftekhimik in time to add another 28 outings. In addition, Denis Zernov’s record of 82 games in a full season (regular season and playoff), set when playing for Avangard in 2020-2021 could also be under threat from players who feature in every game of the regular season and get a chance to go deep into the playoffs.