Standout KHL defenseman Igor Ozhiganov has secured some consistency in his career, at least for a little while. Ozhiganov initially left the KHL and CSKA Moscow after eight years following the 2017-18 season to sign in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a good but not great debut season with Toronto, Ozhiganov opted to return home to Russia, signing with Ak Bars Kazan. However, Kazan traded the top defender for fellow NHL vet Viktor Tikhonov early in the season. Ozhiganov headed to SKA St. Petersburg, where he enjoyed one of the best stretches of his KHL career with 12 points in 35 games. Elite blue liners are often hard to come by in the KHL and SKA has decided not to let Ozhiganov go. The club has announced a new two-year extension that will keep Ozhiganov in St. Petersburg until the 2022 off-season. At that time, Ozhiganov will still be just 29 years old, but an NHL comeback seems unlikely. However, if he continues to perform at a high level with one of the top clubs in the KHL, that could certainly change.
- The AHL’s Laval Rocket got lucky this season when a midseason tryout turned into one of their more productive players. Quebec native Yannick Veilleux, who had previously played with Laval in 2017-18, re-joined the club mid-year after playing in the ECHL and proceeded to record 12 goals and 20 points in 26 games. It was the 27-year-old forward’s best AHL season by far and has now earned him a second chance. The Rocket have announced a one-year, one-way extension for Veilleux, who finished second only to Riley Barber in per-game scoring for Laval this season. The team hopes he can replicate that success next year, while Veilluex himself hopes another strong season could lead to an NHL contract.
- The next stage of 17-year-old USNTDP forward Colby Saganiuk’s developmental path will still take place in Pennsylvania, but now with a different team. Saganiuk, who calls Pittsburgh home, was drafted by the nearby Erie Otters last year but was also being pursued by Penn State University as well. Earlier this season, Saganiuk made the decision to join the NCAA rather than the OHL when he committed to Penn State. However, he has now reversed that decision. The Otters have announced that Saganiuk has signed his OHL contract and will join the club next season. While it is possible for a college player to leave for the Canadian juniors, the opposite is not allowed, meaning Saganiuk has given up the option of the NCAA route. This change of decision is likely tied to Saganiuk’s poor 2019-20 season. Considered one of the top players on the USNTDP U-17 squad, Saganiuk instead saw limited action and struggled to produce. Rather than stick with the developmental program for another year before joining the Nittany Lions, it seems Saganiuk has opted for a change of scenery sooner rather than later by committing to Erie. Whether he is able to bounce back next season and revive his draft stock remains to be seen, but Saganiuk will be an interesting player to watch in the junior ranks next season.
Any relation to Rocky Saganiuk?
@brucenewton – According to the Elite Prospects link, Rocky is his grandfather.