Saint Petersburg (17:00)
Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Saint Petersburg (19:30)
From Dinamo Minsk to Sibir
After the season, Sibir’s head coach Andrei Martemyanov admitted that one of his team’s biggest problems was powerplay conversion. To fix that, Novosibirsk brought in coach Sergei Krivokrasov, and last week they signed Taylor Beck, a renowned specialist with the man advantage. At the same time, the Canadian can be a solid shooter and a solid help in the defensive zone, which he demonstrated last season with Dinamo Minsk. As a rule, Beck fed Malte Stromwall with assists. Will there be such a great receiver for Taylor in Novosibirsk? Or is he going to be the spearhead of his own offense? In any case, it should be remembered that Beck, who hails from St. Catharines, Ontario, played his best hockey under North American coaches (Kurt Fraser, Bob Hartley, and Craig Woodcroft) and Ilya Vorobyov, who himself absorbed a lot from his Canadian colleagues. Conversely, a few months of working with the famed Russian specialist Vladimir Krikunov turned into a fight at practice with teammate Nikolai Timashov.
From Orebro HK (SHL) to Admiral
The Vladivostok boards’ biggest achievement was signing back their top scorer from last season. In fact, the contract with the Czech defender was extended until 2023 back in January. Then he was introduced as the main character of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” saga and nicknamed “Captain Libor Sulak”. In less than a season, the Czech international became a real friend of the club from the Pacific shore. He played more than 20 minutes per game on average, scored more points than his forwards, and in December he wore the captain’s strip for the first time. Sulak left for Sweden at the end of the season, and it was not a hundred percent certain that he would return to the Russian Far East. Now, the Sailors’ coaching staff has at its disposal a man around whom they can build the powerplay and first defensive pair.
From Kometa Brno (Czechia) to Admiral
Together with Sulak, also forward Michal Kristof is flying to Vladivostok. Unlike the Czech, the Slovak has never played in the KHL. The diminutive forward spent most of his career in Finland, where he first moved when he was 18. After playing for the Slovakian national team at the Pyeongchang Olympics, he received an offer from one of the Liiga’s top teams, Karpaat. After spending three seasons with the Ermines, Kristof moved to the Czech Republic, and he played his second Olympics as a Kometa Brno representative. In Beijing, the Sailors’ newcomer scored one goal and helped the team returning home with a bronze medal. And at the last IIHF World Championship he shared the status of Team Slovakia’s second scorer, giving way only to blue-chip prospect Juraj Slafkovski.
From Belleville Senators (AHL) to Admiral
If Kristof is close to Sulak as a native of a neighboring country, the other Admiral’s newcomer could pair up with Libor on the ice, as one is a right-handed defenseman, while the other is a LHD. The fact that Colby Williams, unlike Sulak, is more of a stay-at-home defenseman would add balance. Williams presents himself as a physically strong d-man, but he has never netted more than four goals in a season at the pro level. Williams had just about under 100 penalty minutes in one season, but the Canadian defenseman stayed off the penalty box with more frequency in the recent years.
From Barys to Spartak
Perhaps the most unexpected transfer of the offseason; if not the entire offseason, then for this week for sure. Roman Starchenko is a Barys’ old-timer and one of the iconic players in the KHL. The Kazakh forward has been in the League since his first season, and the upcoming campaign will be his anniversary season as well as the entire KHL. Starchenko was one step away from being the only player to have spent all of those 15 years within the same club. However, Spartak, which signed another Kazakh forward, Maxim Musorov, back in late May, appeared on the horizon. The Red-and-Whites took advantage of the stalled negotiations between Barys and Starchenko. Ironically, Roman left the club from Nur-Sultan after the return of Andrei Skabelka, the coach under whom he had the best season of his career and was called to the League’s All-Star Game.
From SC Bern (NL) to Spartak
Spartak decided not to stop on the acquisition of Musorov and Starchenko and recruited another former Barys player. However, Varone spent last season in Switzerland. Starting in Lausanne, the Canadian then played the remainder of the campaign in Bern. But how did the international perform in Nur-Sultan? His 25 points in 42 games does not fully reflect his role on Yuri Mikhailis’ team. Varone is a center who has been the mainstay of the Barys’ powerplay and penalty killing units. He is both a smart player and a selfless one. In feedback from the team’s former head coach, the unassuming Canadian has become a leader off the ice. That became especially evident in the playoffs, when Filip got injured and the Kazakh side couldn’t find an equal replacement for him. The newcomer will be a center for Spartak and might link up well with Starchenko.
From Kladno (Czechia) to Spartak
Zakhar Arazmatsev was added to Spartak’s hit list of acquisitions this week. At one time the d-man was considered one of the most promising prospects in the country. He made his debut for his native Novokuznetsk early on and was considered the heir to Dmitry Orlov. Then he represented Russia at the U18 and U20 WJCs. In Calgary, where Valery Bragin’s team made it to the finals, Arzamastsev was even an alternate captain. However, Zakhar’s pro career has been a mixed success. His best season was 2016-2017, when under Igor Zakharkin, the defenseman scored 20 points for Salavat Yulaev. However, he didn’t score a single goal in the latest two seasons. Only with Kladno did Arzamastsev manage to score in the qualifying tournament, helping Jaromir Jagr’s team retain its place in the Czech ice hockey elite.
From Krefeld (DEL) to Barys
Krefeld is not one of the strongest clubs in the German DEL – if compared to the DEL leaders, the team has a very modest budget. Rather, Krefeld is known for the fact that it is based in a small town, which traditionally hosts the Deutschland Cup. But since recently, this club quite unexpectedly began to supply players for the KHL. Arthur Tyanulin and Anton Berlyov traveled the VHL – Krefeld – KHL route with a break of a year. Now it’s time for the German team’s top scorer from last season. Despite the fact that Zakharkin’s charges were relegated to the second division, there are still some who can be happy with themselves. Jeremy Bracco, for example. With 40 assists, the American was the fourth-leading assist man in the entire DEL. In addition, the Barys newcomer is known for winning both the U18 WJC and the Memorial Cup in the same season, an achievement which not many people in history have managed to get. In the semifinals of the 2017 U18s, where Team USA defeated Team Russia, Bracco was credited with an assist.
From Texas Stars to Barys
Another Barys’ newcomer also beat the Russian national team. Anthony Louis crossed paths with the Russians in 2013 at the future Olympic Stadium in Sochi. Back then, the U.S. national team won the U18s and on its way to the title knocked out Igor Kravchuk’s team of future stars like Igor Shestyorkin, Vladislav Gavrikov, Vladimir Tkachyov, Sergey Tolchinsky, Sergey Barbashev, Valery Nichushkin, and others. In a dramatic semi-final, the Americans won by shootout, and with two minutes left in regulation time, Louis evened the score. Shestyorkin saved his post-game SO attempt, but it didn’t help the Russians. Over the next ten years, the undersized (173 cm) and lightweight (73 kg) forward never made his NHL debut. But in the AHL his size didn’t prevent Louis from having one productive season after another. He goes to Nur-Sultan as Dallas Stars farm team’s leading scorer.
From Utica Comets to Barys
In addition to Krefeld and Texas’ top scorers, also the Augsburger Panthers’ most prolific player landed in the Kazakh capital. Like Krefeld, led by Bracco, the Augsburg side didn’t make the DEL playoffs. However, Jesse Graham’s high-scoring performance is especially valuable because he plays on the blue line. Moreover, the Canadian became Augsburger’s top scorer netting only three pucks. He is right behind Bracco in the German league’s assist rating. As a right-handed offensive defenseman, Graham will try to replace Darren Dietz in Barys, who even though he brought the Gagarin Cup to Nur-Sultan, has recently inked a new contract with CSKA.