Former NHL forward Valentin Zykov has signed a contract with MODO in the Swedish second league for the rest of the season. The 25-year-old became a Group VI unrestricted free agent in the offseason after his two-year contract expired.
Zykov is perhaps best known for his 20-game suspension in 2019 for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. While the Vegas Golden Knights had come to the defense of Nate Schmidt when he faced a similar suspension the year prior, the team distanced themselves from Zykov immediately, saying that he “knowingly used a banned substance without [their] consent, recommendation or knowledge.”
When that suspension ended, the Golden Knights quickly waived Zykov and sent him to the minor leagues, but it wasn’t actually the end of his career in Vegas. The young forward would come back up and play another eight games for the team in December. That brought his career total of NHL games to 55, where it stands today.
The move to MODO is a step down for sure, given the team is in Sweden’s minor league trying to secure promotion to the SHL. Zykov’s talent has never really been in question, he even led the AHL in goals during the 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Checkers and was previously a CHL Rookie of the Year. If he can show that his career is back on track over the next few months, perhaps he’ll be back in line for another chance in the NHL at some point.