The World Championships are in full swing as the group stage is over. Several KHL players made significant contributions to their respective teams, with Kazakhstan having the most representatives.
Team Kazakhstan had a decent showing at the Worlds, failing to reach the quarterfinals stage but entertaining its fans with three wins, including an early, key one over Norway to escape relegation, and ending in 11th place overall. That’s the country’s second-best result, with only 10th place in the Covid-affected 2021 tournament ahead of that.
The top scorer for Kazakhstan was, not surprisingly, Nikita Mikhailis. The flamboyant Kazakh winger is currently a free agent but spent his previous nine seasons with Barys, competing in more than 400 KHL games for the franchise. Mikhailis accumulated 5 (2+3) points, the same achievement as Evgeny Rymarev (who also had more than 200 appearances for the Kazakh franchise) and Roman Starchenko — last year with Spartak Moscow.
Metallurg’s Valery Orekhov contributed with a pair of snipes from the blue line, while the team’s top goal scorer was 24-year-old Maxim Mukhametov, who has been playing within the Barys’ system since 2015 and made his debut at the World Championship. The winger, whose father has played pro hockey in both Russia and Kazakhstan for a long time, netted three goals.
Between the pipes, Andrei Shutov and Nikita Boyarkin split duties — both spent time with Barys last term, especially the latter, who had 33 appearances, with two shutouts.
It wasn’t the best tournament for Slovenia, who were relegated to Division 1 after collecting seven losses — including a 3:4 defeat to Kazakhstan on the final day of the group stage — but Amur’s Jan Drozg was one of the few bright spots in their roster. The fast-moving winger scored three goals for Slovenia, including a double against Canada, and was one of the busiest players for his team.
Following the group stage, the World Championship returns on May 25 with the quarterfinals. Among the scoring leaders in the tournament is former Gagarin Cup champion Roman Cervenka, who had 9 (3+6) points in seven games as Czechia faces Team USA in the quarters. Another team with good chances in the elimination stage is Sweden, led by former Dynamo Moscow player Oscar Lindberg, who will face the hosts, Team Latvia. Finland will have Sakari Manninen and Teemu Hartikainen in its lineup and will face Team Canada in the quarterfinals.