Back in October, Carolina signed prospect forward Vasili Ponomaryov to a three-year, entry-level contract. At the time, it was expected that he’d return to Shawinigan of the QMJHL next season before turning pro in 2022. Instead, Spartak of the KHL announced today that they’ve added the winger to their roster for the 2021-22 campaign, signing him to a contract that runs through April 2022.
The 19-year-old was a second-round pick (53rd overall) last year following his first season with the Cataractes that saw him impress with 18 goals and 31 assists in 57 games in his first taste of hockey in North America. While that league had some starts and stops this season, the QMJHL was able to get through a shortened season where he managed 10 goals and 28 helpers in just 33 games while picking up four points in five playoff contests.
Staying with Shawinigan certainly would have made sense but now Ponomaryov will have an opportunity to get his feet wet at the professional level and play closer to home for a year as well. His contract slid this season since he didn’t see any NHL action and will do so again in 2021-22 for the same reason for Carolina will still have him signed for three years if he returns to North America for the 2022-23 campaign with AHL Chicago.