The KHL season is in full swing and it has been an exciting first month. The threat of COVID is still lurking though and we have seen games postponed and forfeited as a result. Teams like Jokerit, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and SKA St. Petersburg have been particularly affected. It will be something to monitor as the season continues but the KHL has been very clear that it wants to continue playing at all costs.
October has presented another unusual moment with the NHL Draft taking place during the KHL season for the first time. It is hard to imagine that this wasn’t a distraction for some of the draft-eligible players so I will be interested to see if any of them can push on from here. In this article, I will recap the main players picked, as well as providing updates on how the existing NHL prospects are faring.
NHL Draft Selections
Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA St. Petersburg (Nashville Predators, 11th overall)
It was always expected that Askarov would be the first Russian player off the board and Nashville seemed like the most logical team to select him. They are getting a potential superstar who has been nothing short of exceptional in his short stint in the KHL this season. After stopping 14 of 15 shots in relief against Avangard Omsk, he then posted a 33-save shutout against Spartak Moscow in the next game. Three days later, he stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 2-1 win over Torpedo. Unfortunately, SKA’s depth in goal will likely mean that he sees little KHL game time the rest of the season. But he is undoubtedly the most promising goalie prospect in Russia (and maybe all of Europe) and Preds fans should be extremely pleased to have him in their organization.
Rodion Amirov, LW, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Toronto Maple Leafs, 15th overall)
A lot of mock drafts had Amirov going to the Leafs, so it was not surprising when his name was finally called as the 15th overall pick. Amirov is a fluid skater who draws pressure extremely well, which either leads to space opening up for his teammates or draws a penalty. Although he isn’t the biggest player (6-0, 168lbs), he protects the puck very well and isn’t afraid to go to the front of the net. For the past few weeks, Salavat’s lineup has been depleted and this has seen Amirov log more minutes, and he has certainly made the most of this opportunity. I really like this pick by Toronto and I expect them to have an exciting player to add to their lineup in a few years.
Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (New Jersey Devils, 20th overall)
Mukhamadullin was a surprise pick at 20th overall and may have benefited from his strong start to the season with Salavat. He has been afforded the opportunity to log big minutes as a result of the number of players currently missing from the Salavat lineup. His seven points in 19 games, aided heavily by his big shot, certainly helped him stand out. You can see why he would appeal to teams – he is 6-4 and can skate well for his size. I have serious concerns though about how he sees the game and I think taking him at 20 was at least a round too high for my liking.
Yegor Chinakhov, RW, Avangard Omsk (Columbus Blue Jackets, 21st