Saint Petersburg (17:00)
Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Saint Petersburg (19:30)
20-year-old defenseman Alexander Nikishin is one of the hottest properties in the KHL – the youngster already made his Olympic debut back in February after an impressive rookie season with Spartak. Now he’s the subject of a big trade, moving to SKA in exchange for nine players. The Red-and-Whites will receive five youngsters immediately and hold the KHL rights to four more. The players moving now are 24-year-old forward Pavel Kukshtel, 21-year-old d-man Nikita Sedov, 19-year-old forwards Nikita Chibrikov and Fyodor Svechkov and 20-year-old Maxim Krovyakov. All except Krovyakov have KHL experience. In addition, Spartak gains the rights to Kirill Marchenko and Ivan Morozov, who are heading across the Atlantic to join the Blue Jackets and the Golden Knights respectively, as well as German Rubtsov, recently released by the Panthers, and Mikhail Maltsev, currently part of the Avalanche.
Nikishin isn’t the only big signing for SKA. Czech international Dmitrij Jaskin is back in the KHL after a year with the Coyotes and signed a one-year deal in Petersburg. Jaskin, who was born in Omsk, previously played a season in the KHL with Dynamo Moscow, producing 68 (43+25) points in 69 games as part of a productive partnership with Vadim Shipachyov.
Salavat Yulaev signed an American center with medals from senior and junior World Championship play. Alexander Chmelevski, 23, made just 24 NHL appearances in his time with San Jose, but caught the eye sufficiently to earn a place on the American’s bronze medal roster in Riga in 2021. After he was released by the Sharks, he decided to look further afield to progress his career and signed a one-year deal in Ufa.
American defenseman Joey Keane is the latest new import to join the KHL. The 23-year-old inked a one-year deal with Spartak at the start of the week. A promising two-way d-man, he had 45 (8+37) points from 80 games to help the Chicago Wolves win the Calder Cup last season. Other returning imports include Canadian forward Tyler Graovac, who swaps Dinamo Minsk for Vityaz and replaces Daniel Audette, and Czechia’s Rudolf Cerveny, who joins Admiral after previously representing Slovan and Dinamo Riga.
Three-time Gagarin Cup winner Alexei Emelin is off to Dinamo Minsk as Craig Woodcroft looks to reshape his defense after the departure of his Swedish imports Adam Almquist, Lukas Bengtsson and Anton Lindholm. Emelin, 36, played in the first ever KHL season, helping Ak Bars to win the inaugural Gagarin Cup, and had a bigger role as Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team defended its title. After seven seasons and 456 games in the NHL for Montreal and Nashville, he returned to Russia and won another KHL title with Avangard in 2020. As well as acquiring the hugely reliable Emelin, Dinamo also handed a try-out to the enigmatic Nikolai Zherdev, a forward of undoubted talent but a player who has not always reached his full potential.
Last week saw the first warm-up games of the summer, with the action starting in Omsk. Avangard played in its hometown for the first time in four years, taking on farm club Omskiye Krylya at the club’s academy rink. It proved to be a winning return, with the senior roster edging a 3-2 verdict. Elsewhere, veteran defenseman Alexei Emelin made a notable debut for Dinamo Minsk with two goals and an assist in a 3-2 victory over Sibir, while Vyacheslav Litovchenko’s hat-trick helped the Novosibirsk team to a 4-1 win over Vityaz.
Sochi hosts the traditional summer starter, with its Hockey Open getting underway on Aug. 3. This year’s tournament sees the Leopards welcome SKA, Avangard, Dinamo Minsk, Admiral and a Russia select team. The event runs through Aug. 9 and is played in a round robin format.