13 brave. We evaluate the prospects of Russian newcomers NHL

No sooner had the season ended in the Continental Hockey League, as news came about the departure of several Russian players in the NHL. By the end of the World Cup, the list of people willing to try their hand in the strongest league of the world has expanded to 13 people. Will they be able to play in the elite or hang in the farm clubs? We tried to answer this question.

Oust Lundquist
Artem Zagidulin (one-year bilateral contract, Calgary Flames)
Daniil Tarasov (three-year bilateral contract, Columbus Blue Jackets)
Igor Shesterkin (two-year bilateral contract, New York Rangers)
Last season, only five Russian goalkeepers played in the NHL, but one should hardly expect that with Zagidulin, Tarasov and Shesterkin’s departure overseas, their number will increase significantly. All three were not considered the main goalkeepers in the KHL clubs and are unlikely to receive a similar status in the strongest league in the world.  

The closest to the debut of the Olympic champion Pkhenchkhana 23-year-old Shesterkin. The hockey player, drafted by the “cops” in 2014 in the fourth round, received a substantive offer from New York last offseason, but decided to stay at SKA. And, perhaps, lost. Another Russian, 23-year-old Alexander Georgiev, used his chance to gain a foothold as a backup for the legendary Henrik Lundqvist. In 33 matches he reflected 91.4% of the shots and is now an absolute player in the main team. And, perhaps, even her main goalkeeper in the next season: last 37-year-old Lundqvist made a frankly unsuccessful. “I have two more years of contract, but when you are an age player, you will not foresee anything.

I want to continue speaking, but if the club makes another decision, I will have to listen to him, ”said the Swede, whose annual salary is $ 8.5 million. Does it make sense to pay that kind of money to the goalkeeper going through a restructuring and not ready for the serious results of the team? Some experts doubt this and suggest that next season Rangers will rely on goalkeeper duo Georgiev — Shesterkin

However, several factors must coincide. One of them is Igor’s readiness to start the season at the farm club (there is a clause in his contract about a possible return to the KHL) and, of course, a quality game for a subsidiary team. There is no doubt that the chance to express themselves in the main part of the «cops» will appear. Zagidulin, who will turn 24 in August, was the understudy of Vasily Koshechkin in Magnitogorsk, spent 25 matches and reflected in them 92.4% of the shots. In the NHL, he was not drafted and, as Metallurg vice-president Gennady Velichkin admitted, he was surprised by his overseas contract.

“With departure, he was a little hurried,” said Velichkin, predicting to Artem the performance in the AHL. The head coach of the «lights», Bill Peters, also seems to not consider the Russian as a player in the main team: when asked by a journalist about a new goalkeeper, the mentor replied that he «does not know his name and what he is.» However, it would be rash to assert that Zagidulin has no chance at all in Calgary:

The contracts of the main goalkeepers Mike Smith and David Rittih ended with the club, and what the team will look like next season can only be speculated. There is an option that the second goalkeeper will be selected from among the avenues of the club. 20-year-old Tarasov in the KHL had just two matches. He was drafted by Columbus Blue Jackets in the third round in 2017 and did not go to the main team, where he would bet on the Elvis Merzlikin-Jonas Korpisalo duet, but to the farm club. If you manage to become the main goalkeeper there, that’s good.

Immediately to the base Defenders Alexander Elesin (two-year bilateral contract, Calgary Flames) Vladislav Gavrikov (two-year bilateral contract, Columbus Blue Jackets) Yegor Rykov (two-year bilateral contract, New York Rangers)

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