When the New York Rangers sent Michael Grabner to the New Jersey Devils in 2018, they got back an interesting young defense prospect by the name of Yegor Rykov (in addition to a second-round selection). Rykov had been a fifth-round pick by the Devils in 2016, but was still playing in the KHL and there was no clear timeline on when he would be coming to North America. A little over a year later the Rangers convinced Rykov to sign his entry-level contract, and he spent this season in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack. Now, with uncertainty over when the AHL will start play, Rykov appears to be heading back to Russia.
The 23-year old’s rights were traded from SKA St. Petersburg to CSKA Moscow, a deal between two of the KHL powerhouses. When the news came across, Rick Carpinello of The Athletic tweeted that the expectation is that Rykov will spend the 2020-21 season in Russia, given how far he is down the Rangers depth chart.
Rykov is still under contract with New York for next season, but according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the deal has a European Assignment Clause for the 2020-21 season. That would mean Rykov essentially controls his own fate unless the Rangers were willing to give him an NHL roster spot.
That may not be so far off, given his early-career experience. The 6’2″ left-handed defenseman has played three fulls seasons in the KHL and a year in the AHL already, despite only turning 23 a few months ago. He was a standout at the World Juniors in 2017 for Russia, taking home a bronze medal before returning to Russia and winning a Gagarin Cup with SKA.
If the speculation proves correct, his development will have to continue overseas for now. Hopefully the Rangers can come to an agreement for another contract in 2021 when he will be a restricted free agent.