It hasn’t been a very successful offseason for Kerby Rychel. First the Calgary Flames decided not to issue him a qualifying offer which made him an unrestricted free agent, and then he had to settle for a one-year deal in Sweden in late July. Just a month later Rychel parted ways with Orebro HK due to “personal reasons,” leaving him a free agent without a team once again. Now, Igor Eronko of Sport-Express reports that Rychel has signed a one-year deal with Neftekhimik in the KHL.
Rychel, 24, was a first-round selection by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013 but failed to ever make a real impact at the NHL level for the club. After several years developing him in the minor leagues—including a Calder Cup championship with the Lake Erie Monsters—he was flipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016 for Scott Harrington. The Maple Leafs never even gave him a single game in the NHL before trading him again to the Montreal Canadiens, where he suited up just four times. Last season Rychel spent the year almost entirely with the Stockton Heat, scoring 43 points in 57 games.
There has always been the potential of a top-level power forward in Rychel, but things to this point just haven’t worked out. In 43 NHL games has just 14 points, though his AHL numbers are much more respectable. In the KHL he may get a bigger offensive opportunity, but Rychel will need to commit himself to improving his fitness and dedication at both ends of the rink if he is to ever get another sniff at the NHL.