Just after the Vancouver Canucks learned that they’d lost Nikita Tryamkin to his old KHL club, the league announced that Philip Larsen has signed a two-year deal with Salavat Yulaev. Larsen was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, after playing just 26 games with the Canucks this season. He’ll be returning to the league in which he found so much success, scoring 36 points in 52 games during the 2015-16 season.
Larsen was acquired from the Oilers last spring, and signed a one-year deal with the Canucks hoping to become the powerplay quarterback he had been in Russia. Instead, tragedy struck when he was destroyed by a Taylor Hall hit behind the ice and had to leave the game on a stretcher. He would eventually return more than six weeks later, but played just a handful of games down the stretch for Vancouver.
Originally drafted in the fifth round by the Dallas Stars, Larsen has never been quite able to put together a full NHL season. His future always seemed to be overseas, either in the KHL or closer to his native Denmark. He spent his formative years playing in the Swedish Elite League, where he was first spotted by Dallas. While it’s not determined if he’ll ever return to the NHL, at 27 he’s found his niche in the KHL and could easily stay there. Unfortunately, Denmark will not participate in the 2018 Olympics in hockey, with their qualification stage being one of the toughest against both Slovenia—who eventually won the group and will play in Pyeongchang—Poland and Belarus.