The Blackhawks may have their depth winger already in the system, if Maxim Shalunov’s agent can just convince his KHL team to let the Blackhawks sign him. The fourth-round pick from 2011 is still under contract in Russia, but The Athletic’s Scott Powers spoke to agent Shumi Babaev on Thursday evening and was told there is a chance—even if it is just 10%.
Shalunov left for the KHL after struggling in the AHL and spending most of 2013-14 in the East Coast Hockey League, but has found much more success in his native Russia. The leading scorer on Novosibirsk Sibir, the 24-year old has 19 goals and 37 points in just 49 games. While the KHL is not a perfect predictor for NHL success, it seems as though he’s developed nicely from his days with the Rockford IceHogs.
It’s not a given that he’ll come over to the NHL at all, as his team currently has him under contract until April 30th, and he has said he wants a trade to CSKA Moscow after that if he’s to stay in the KHL. That team can recruit just as well as any NHL squad, as it has with Minnesota Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov recently. Shalunov’s agent still puts it at 90% that they stay in Russia, but he’ll discuss it with the team and see what he can do to bring him to North America. The Hawks may have just found their top-6 rental winger for the playoffs.