In what has been a quiet day for North American hockey so far, a blockbuster trade went down over in the KHL, involving Alexander Nikishin, one of the Carolina Hurricanes’ top prospects. In exchange for sending the young defenseman to SKA St. Petersburg, Spartak Moscow receives forwards Fyodor Svechkov, Nikita Chibrikov, Pavel Kukshtel, and Maxim Krovyakov, defenseman Nikita Sedov, as well as the KHL rights to forwards Mikhail Maltsev, German Rubtsov, Ivan Morozov, and Kirill Marchenko. The deal was announced by Spartak Moscow on Twitter, and confirmed in North America by The Athletic’s Corey Pronman, who adds that its expected Nikishin will sign an extension with SKA.
Though the trade does not contain any one superstar player in the KHL, it’s a trade of plenty of young talent for one very talented young player. Outside of Sedov, Moscow is receiving players with little to no KHL experience, but mostly all standouts in the lower VHL and MHL levels in Russia. Sedov, on the other hand, does have KHL experience, getting into 67 games at the KHL level over the past two seasons between SKA and Sochi, but like the rest of the players in this trade, is quite young, at just 21 years of age. One thing worth considering when looking at the size of the haul that Spartak is receiving, is that some of these players, like Svechkov and Chibrikov, have very real NHL futures and could head to North America when their contracts expire. Thus, while Spartak receives a bevy of young talent, it’s a group they will have to comb through to see who will be their building blocks. Regardless, they will be able to hold onto their KHL rights should the players leave for another league. By making this trade, SKA parts with a lot of talent, but receives a reliable young defenseman who is expected to sign an extension, which should give some predictability for the organization.
From an NHL perspective, the players of note include Nikishin, Svechkov and Chibrikov – very real NHL prospects under contracts in Russia. A third-round pick of the Hurricanes in 2020, Nikishin has spent parts of the past three seasons at the KHL level with Spartak, totaling nine goals and 11 assists in 95 games as a defenseman, and even appeared in six games on Russia’s Olympic team this winter. Signing an extension overseas does complicate things for Carolina, but doesn’t foreclose any possibility of the young blueliner ever coming to North America. If anything, playing regularly for one of the better teams in Russia’s top league should greatly assist in his development.
Svechkov was the Nashville Predators first-round selection, 19th overall in 2021. The forward made his KHL debut in 2021-22, getting in four games, but was primarily a dynamic playmaker for SKA’s VHL team, where he had nine goals and 22 assists in 30 games. The 50th overall selection in 2021, to the Winnipeg Jets, Chibrikov is another dynamic forward who spent time at the KHL, VHL, and MHL levels this season with SKA. The majority of his time was also spent with Svechkov in the VHL, where he had an impressive 15 goals and 16 assists in 28 games.
The amount of talent in this transaction is surely eye-popping and does have NHL impact, not only with these three but also with the players who’s KHL rights were traded. What the exact impacts on these players and their respective NHL clubs winds up being is yet to be determined, but does provide an interesting wrinkle in their development.