If you’re a Chicago Blackhawks fan waiting to hear that Max Shalunov has finally decided to come to North America, you’re going to have to wait a while longer. The Russian forward has re-signed with CSKA Moscow for another season.
Shalunov, 27, was originally drafted by the Blackhawks back in 2011 but has never signed an NHL contract. He did play one season in the minor leagues, mostly with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, but has been back in Russia ever since. The Blackhawks own his exclusive NHL rights indefinitely, which could mean that he never ends up seeing a North American rink.
In a bizarre story from Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required), Shalunov’s agent Shumi Babaev explains that he hasn’t heard back from Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman since the end of the KHL season. He put into words what so many of us are feeling these days, telling Powers “everything is so strange right now.” If Shalunov did sign, he’d have to wait until the 2020-21 season to begin, something that his agent doesn’t recommend.
The fourth-round pick has had plenty of success in the KHL, scoring at least 25 points in each of the last five seasons. But the Blackhawks obviously don’t seem to be in any rush to sign him, instead bringing over other European players like Dominik Kubalik. For the moment, Shalunov remains a Blackhawks draft pick. Whether we’ll ever get to see him play for the team is another story.