Valentin Zykov is no stranger to being claimed off waivers. The 23-year-old forward landed with the Edmonton Oilers less than a month ago after being placed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes. As such, it comes as no surprise that Zykov is on the move yet again, after Edmonton also opted to place him on waivers yesterday. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report that Zykov has been claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights and will remain in the Pacific Division for the time being.
Zykov continues to be an enigma in his pro career. The young Russian winger led the AHL with 33 goals last season and topped 50 points while playing a top-line role for the Charlotte Checkers. He also performed well in a brief NHL tryout with Carolina, recording seven points in ten games. However, when handed a roster spot with the Hurricanes to begin this season, Zykov disappeared. He was unable to score even one goal, registering just three assists in 13 games. When the ’Canes decided to risk Zykov on waivers to move him back to the AHL, they did so knowing that they could be giving up considerable offensive potential. Originally a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings back in 2013, Zykov’s ability has always been well-regarded, but questions remain about whether he can put it all together at the NHL level. The Oilers decided to take a chance on his upside and claimed the AHL standout. In five games with Edmonton, Zykov was even more invisible than he had been in Raleigh. Zykov failed to record a point and struggled to log even seven minutes of ice time in four of his five outings. The Oilers were unimpressed by the performance, but apparently the Golden Knights were not. They become the third team to give the talented, but inconsistent winger a chance this season. Whether or not they will be the last remains to be seen. Vegas is currently over the 23-man roster limit and have some immediate roster decisions to make. Zykov is likely on a short leash with this club as well.
Friedman also notes that the three other players placed on waivers yesterday cleared. This means that defenseman Jake Dotchin, who also could have been on to his third team of the season, will instead remain with the Anaheim Ducks organization. Dotchin is likely to be demoted to the AHL after clearing waivers, given his dwindling ice time in recent games and the team’s depth on the blue line. Dotchin is a nice asset for the Ducks to have as an option should they need a dose of physicality, but the former Tampa Bay Lightning rearguard is probably best suited for the depth role he now finds himself in. The other two players to clear – placed on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination – were Carolina’s Michal Cajkovsky and Nashville’s Joonas Lyytinen. Given that Cajkovksy had already signed with Dynamo Moscow ahead of the KHL Trade Deadline, his clearance is not a surprise. The same goes for Lyytinen, who has struggled to carve out a role for himself with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals in two seasons in North America and was nowhere close to an NHL call-up. Lyytinen is likely to return to the Liiga in his native Finland following his release.