Over the past few years Kontinental Hockey League free agents have become effective for clubs like Chicago, Montreal and Toronto. Think of names like Alexander Radulov, Artemi Panarin, or Nikita Zaitsev. The KHL is a very deep league with budding talent waiting to hit North America. For the players looking for contracts, the questions will be about money, ice time and team direction. Players like Radulov made great money back in Russia, but he wanted to be in the league with the world’s best. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few KHL free agents that are looking to make the jump this offseason.
The 29-year-old center toyed around with the NHL last offseason but ended up signing an extension with his team SKA Saint Petersburg. Shipachyov posted a monster regular season with 26 goals and 76 points in 50 games. SKA benefited most as they ended the season with only 8 regulation losses. Shipachyov plays on a team full of NHL stars and veterans, which include Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Slava Voynov. NHL teams showed interest last year but the Russian decided to stay home. This summer it’ll be tough to turn down the multiple offerings he’ll get from North America teams. Hockey analyst Rob Vollman came up with a hockey league conversion rating for the world’s different leagues. One KHL point converts to .80 NHL points. Using that equation Shipachyov is a potential 70 point NHL player. That’s one attractive free agent. The only thing that’ll keep him out of Las Vegas is the multiple contracts he’ll have offered. If teams believe he can produce like Radulov, expect Shipachyov to be looking for $5-6 million a year. Might be a bit rich for the Golden Knights in a year in which they aren’t expected to do much.
Once ranked #60 overall by NHL Central Scouting Services, the undrafted Tkachev is considering another shot in North America. The 21 year-old Admiral Vladivostok forward finished his season with 14 goals and 39 points. Tkachev is almost a decade younger and won’t cost as mush as Shipachyov. With stints in Moncton and Quebec in the QMJHL, Tkachev tallied 79 points in 66 games. Tkachev won’t demand a contract like Radulov or Shipachyov, so the young European could draw Vegas interest.
There’s a theme with current KHL players that were once NHL drafted, some just do not want to play in the AHL. That’s the case with Dadonov, who bailed on the NHL after Florida juggled him up and down. Since his return to the KHL, the 23 year-old has improved every season. Reaching personal highs of 30 goals and 66 points in 53 games. Dadonov isn’t the biggest forward but makes up with his great speed. NHL teams will be weary of his poor defensive skills, but has the ability to change his style of play. Hockey’s Future gives him a potential grade of D, so the doubters are all over the league.
The 26 year-old center is ready to make the jump after four strong seasons in the KHL. Kovar successfully averaged 23 goals and 60 points a year for Magnitogorsk Metallurg. Some argue Kovar has gone under the radar and could’ve already made the NHL jump. Scouts believe Kovar would benefit from an NHL roster with a KHL influence. TSN’s Craig Button projected Vegas would use their expansion selection on former KHL’er Dmitry Orlov. Washington has done a great job using Alex Ovechkin as a KHL recruiter. Maybe, Orlov becomes the KHL talent scout for the Golden Knights.