In the early part of the 2017-18 season, one of the biggest stories in the NHL was that of Vadim Shipachyov. The Vegas Golden Knights had convinced the then 30-year old Shipachyov to leave the KHL after nine seasons in the league and come to North America to play in the NHL. Signing him to a two-year, $9MM contract before the expansion draft process or free agency, the Golden Knights were betting big on the talented Russian forward.
Unfortunately that relationship didn’t get off to a good start, with Shipachyov beginning the season in the minor leagues and failing to really ever establish himself with the Golden Knights. After just three NHL games, the two sides parted ways and Shipachyov returned nearly all of his $2MM signing bonus in order to return to Russia. Some noted that the tough situation might prevent the Golden Knights from convincing other Russian free agents—including Nikita Gusev, whose rights belong to Vegas—from joining their organization in the future, though there was never any real evidence to support it.
Now, Igor Eronko of Sport-Express passes on a Russian report that Golden Knights GM George McPhee recently had a meeting with Vladimir Tkachyov, whose contract is scheduled to expire next spring. Tkachyov—the 24-year old center playing for Ak Bars Kazan—was linked to teams like the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers back in 2017 before signing a two-year extension with Ak Bars. That was followed by his best offensive season yet, in which he scored 22 goals and 36 points in 53 games and helped his club win a Gagarin Cup. There’s no reason for NHL teams to have lost interest, but it’s not clear who is the front runner for his services at this point, or even if he’ll consider coming to North America this time around.
The Golden Knights obviously have a lot to offer, given their immediate success in the NHL and healthy salary situation. If they are interested in signing Tkachyov though, it will be interesting to see how the previous Shipachyov situation affects things—if it does at all.