The St. Louis Blues won’t be re-signing Nikita Soshnikov this summer. The oft-injured forward has decided to take his talents back to Russia, and today signed a two-year contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa after the team acquired his rights from SKA St. Petersburg in exchange for those of young forward Vladimir Tkachev. In the release, the team mentions that Soshnikov has not completely given up on an NHL career.
Soshnikov, 25, originally signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015 after going undrafted. The speedy forward had excelled as a young player in the KHL and looked to be a legitimate prospect for the Maple Leafs, who allowed him to develop in the minor leagues during his first season in North America. After a late-season taste of the NHL, he ended up playing nearly the entire next year there, but was limited by injury and recorded just nine points in 56 games. In March, 2017, he was hit twice by Zdeno Chara in the same game and suffered a concussion that would torpedo the rest of his time in Toronto.
Eventually finding himself on the Blues in 2017-18 after threatening to use his European Assignment Clause in order to return to Russia, Soshnikov would again miss a good chunk of the season due to injury. He would play just 12 games for them that season, and five this year. Scheduled to become a restricted free agent, the Blues can temporarily retain Soshnikov’s exclusive rights by issuing him a qualifying offer, but at this point he obviously intends on getting his career back on track back in Russia.