The doctrine of “no trade-backs” apparently isn’t held in as high regard in Russia. Chicago Blackhawks goalie prospect Ivan Nalimov has had a strange past few months to say the least. The 25-year-old keeper signed with HK Sochi early in the off-season, but was surprisingly traded not long after to SKA St. Petersburg in July. A product of SKA’s system and a former first-round pick of the team, Nalimov actually seemed like he had stumbled into some good luck with a familiar fit on a top club. Yet, after not making an appearance through the first month of the season, Nalimov has been traded back to Sochi, the team announced. When Nalimov asked for a trade last season, he was talking about his NHL rights, but KHL teams obliged nonetheless, as this is his third time being traded since. He began last season with the Kunlun Red Star, but was moved to Avangard Omsk midway through the year. He’s now in his second stint with Sochi since last season ended. In fact, Nalimov has been a part of seven different KHL clubs over the past four years. Some would think that lack of consistency would have a negative effect on his development, but Nalimov has been solid for several years now and was stellar down the stretch and in the postseason for Omsk last year. Yet, it’s no wonder why he is so eager to make the jump to North America and find some normalcy to his career. Nalimov has since rescinded his trade request from the Blackhawks, and just in time too. Chicago’s tandem of Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner will both be unrestricted free agents this season and veteran minor leaguers Anton Forsberg and Jean-Francois Berube are now gone. If he plays well again this season and then signs with the Blackhawks, there’s a real possibility that Nalimov could compete with Collin Delia for the backup job in Chicago next year.
- Another prospect getting a fresh start is young defender Axel Andersson. Property of the Boston Bruins, who selected him in the second round in 2018, Andersson stayed overseas last year in his native Sweden. While he made the jump from the junior-level SuperElit to the second-tier Allsvenskan, it was a somewhat underwhelming campaign. Andersson arrived at training camp this year looking for a change of scenery and for a while it looked like that might come with AHL Providence. Andersson suited up for a couple of Boston’s preseason games and then took part in the entirety of Providence’s camp. However, he always faced an uphill battle to find regular ice time with the team this year, as they count Alexander Petrovic, Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Lauzon, and Jakub Zboril, as well as long-time member Chris Breen and highly-regarded project Cooper Zech among the names with guaranteed play time. So instead Andersson has joined his CHL rights holder, the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. The Bruins have officially loaned Andersson to Moncton, who are excited to add a talented defenseman that they used a first-round pick on in this year’s CHL Import Draft. Moncton head coach and director of hockey operations John Torchetti, a Boston native, was no doubt influential in convincing the Bruins that the QMJHL would be more beneficial for Andersson than a return to Sweden or limited minutes in the AHL. He’ll get to play internationally this season anyway, as Andersson is expected to suit up for the Swedes in the World Junior Championship.
- The Bruins are happy with the decision on Andersson, somewhat of a project player, but may already be regretting giving up on another slow-to-develop prospect. Cedric Pare, a sixth-round pick of Boston in 2017, is tearing up the QMJHL early this season. Pare is the first player with double-digit goals in the entire CHL, notching ten through eight games with Rimouski Oceanic. Of course, it bears mentioning that Pare is centering a line that features presumptive 2020 top pick Alexis Lafreniere and Calgary Flames dark horse prospect Dmitri Zavgorodny. However, Pare is still showing that his skill and skating are finally catching up to his size and two-way intelligence. Those latter abilities were on display though his first three junior seasons, but the offense was lacking. Pare has yet to crack 20 goals or 50 points in a season, but is well on his way at an outrageous pace of 80+ goals and 130+ points. The Bruins’ rights to Pare expired early this summer when the team opted not to extend him an entry-level contract. He is now likely to be a hotly-pursued free agent later this year and the odds are that Boston is not at the top of his list of destinations.