After waiting several years for his contracts overseas to expire, the Columbus Blue Jackets have finally signed Dmitri Voronkov to a two-year entry-level deal. The Russian forward has been approved for a work visa, according to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, though it is still unclear when he will travel to Columbus.
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen released a statement on the signing:
Dmitri is a big, strong forward who can play at center ice or on the wing and is coming off an outstanding season in the KHL. He is a skilled player that has shown an ability to score goals while playing a physical two-way game. We believe he has tremendous upside and are looking forward to his joining our group and continuing his development as a Blue Jacket.
Voronkov, 22, was the 114th overall pick in 2019 but quickly shot up prospect lists with a solid showing in the KHL as a rookie and an outstanding performance in the 2020 World Juniors. While his offensive output (and playing time) has wavered at times at the Russian professional level, there were flashes of a potential breakout on the horizon.
That breakout happened this season, when Voronkov scored 18 goals and 31 points in 54 games for Ak-Bars Kazan before adding eight goals and 12 points in 24 postseason matches—barely missing out on a league championship.
A member of the 2022 Olympic team, he is coming to the Blue Jackets as a potential day-one option for their 2023-24 roster. He can contribute in a variety of ways and should give Columbus another piece to try and fit into their rebuild.