At the end of this month, many contracts in the KHL will expire, making a whole wave of players free agents eligible to sign in other professional leagues. For some, it appears as though NHL contracts are on the horizon. A report from Leonid Zakhvatov of Match TV in Russia indicates that both Kirill Marchenko and Ivan Morozov will sign entry-level contracts with their respective NHL clubs, leaving the KHL behind.
Marchenko, 21, was selected 49th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018, a team that has patiently awaited his arrival in North America. The young forward has shown an ability to score even in limited KHL minutes while playing with SKA St. Petersburg the last few seasons, adding 12 goals in 39 games this year despite averaging under 12 minutes of ice time.
He actually hasn’t played with the KHL club since January though, heading to the VHL instead for the affiliate’s playoff run, where he added four goals in ten games so far. Marchenko is playing a lot more there, but is in danger of being eliminated tomorrow as SKA is down 3-1 in their semi-final series.
Morozov, meanwhile, was the 61st pick in 2018, this time by the Vegas Golden Knights. He too was playing with SKA the last few seasons and saw a demotion to the VHL squad this year, before ending up with HC Sochi for the end of the year. The complicated year for Morozov is especially curious, given how well he had previously shown at the highest level. In 2020-21 he scored 31 points in 55 regular season games, added seven more in 15 playoff contests, and then was named to the Russian World Championship team. This year, in 22 KHL games combined between SKA and Sochi, he had five goals and 11 points.
Both players represent no sure thing but could be quick risers through the system and contribute at the NHL level in 2022-23, should the contracts be finalized. In fact, technically either one would even be eligible to play in the postseason this year, though it would mean burning the first year of the entry-level deal.