One of the KHL’s top scorers is on the move. The league announced that Sergei Shirokov has signed a two-year deal with Avangard Omsk. Shirokov, 32, finished third in scoring this season for SKA St. Petersburg, the KHL regular season champs, with 41 points in 49 games. He was a top ten finisher in the league in goals per game and plus/minus among the top twenty in overall goals and points. He now takes those talents to Omsk, a team that has been a popular destination so far this off-season. Since hiring head coach Bob Hartley, the team has theoretically fixed its goaltending and scoring issues with additions of Karri Ramo and Igor Bobkov in net and Shirokov and young Denis Zernov up front. Shirokov, a sixth-round pick of the Vancouver in 2006, may not have impressed in his two NHL seasons with the Canucks, but has enough talent to turn Avangard into a true contender.
- On the other hand, SKA seems to be bleeding assets. Shirokov joins leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk (in theory), long-time star Vadim Shipachyov, and starting goaltender Mikko Koskinen in departing St. Petersburg and there is still a chance that star forward Nikita Gusev and top defenseman Slava Voynov could eye a jump to the NHL this summer. Fortunately, Sergei Plotnikov isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Despite a bounce back season that had some thinking he might take another shot at the NHL, Plotkinov has signed a four-year extension with SKA per a team release. Plotnikov will now be looked upon as a top scorer for St. Petersburg alongside Gusev and won’t be able to disappear for long stretches as he was known for during his brief stay in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Arizona Coyotes. The team’s continued place as a top contender in the KHL may depend on it.
- Anton Volchenkov is gearing up for his 18th season of pro hockey. The 36-year-old defenseman has signed a one-year deal with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, the KHL announced. The Russian veteran was cut from his team, Admiral Vladivostok, in early February and there was speculation that it would be the end of his career. However, the menacing blue liner will live to skate another day. Admittedly, Volchenkov’s play has slipped since he left the NHL after the 2014-15 season. The long-time Ottawa Senator was a first-round pick of the team in 2000 and played close to 700 games with the Sens, New Jersey Devils, and Nashville Predators. He previously played with Torpedo during the work stoppage that shortened the 2012-13 season and likely used those connections to return to Novgorod. Never much of an offensive threat, Volchenkov can still play a leadership role and will bring his aggressive possession game to the team.
- It appears Zach Boychuk will put off any attempt at returning to North America for at least another year. The former Carolina Hurricanes top prospect has signed a one-year deal with Severstal Cherepovets, the team revealed today. This marks the third season for Boychuk in the KHL after failing to find NHL employment in 2016. Boychuk, the 14th overall pick in 2008 and the cousin of Johnny Boychuk, had high expectations when entering the NHL. Despite a solid, two-way game, Boychuk never provided the offensive pop that justified his early selection or that could keep him in the league full-time. He still has only production overseas. After spending years mostly buried in the AHL, it remains unknown if Boychuk will ever try to make the jump back across the Atlantic when he continues to land more lucrative contracts in the KHL.