KHL GAGARIN CUP PLAYOFFS RECAP
Well guess who won the KHL championship last night, just in time for the KHL update (they must have known), it was won in five games by SKA Saint Petersburg. The team that finished tied for first in points with a loaded offense and stellar goaltending. See the brackets below:
CSKA was the other team tied for first in the KHL who were upset by the fourth place Lokomotiv, who went on to get swept by SKA.
Metallurg (MMG) was the top team in the East conference who cruised through the playoffs after cruising through the regular season.
There were zero upsets in the first round, unless you count a fifth seed beating a fourth seed as an upset. The disparity in this league between the top teams and the mid-teams are pretty large and unfair at times.
The line of Nikita Gusev, Vadim Shipachyov, and Evgeny Dadonov lead the way for SKA, combining for 62 points in 18 games, and finishing third, fifth, and sixth, respectively in playoff scoring (Forwards).
SKA Saint Petersburg won the Gagarin cup on the back of the most brilliant cooperative line in hockey. All year all playoffs and again today pic.twitter.com/4l2ToPkNDj— Bob Roberts (@BobRbrts) April 16, 2017
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Everyone should know the status of these three by now, Gusev likely has one more year in the KHL barring him buying himself out, which thanks to the NHL’s recent decision to not go to the Olympics, I find very unlikely. Shipachyov and Dadonov both could come over, as they have been highly scouted but the Olympic decision may keep them in the KHL for another season.
Talked to Evgeni Dadonov yesterday, he's not sure if he's leaving. But it looked like he actually wants to return to the NHL— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 17, 2017
Dadonov will go overseas, that's for sure. Next summer – the latest— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 17, 2017
Side note: Igor Eronko is a must follow on twitter for Russian hockey news
Kovalchuk had ONLY nine points in 18 games for SKA, which is quite odd as you expect him to be in the tops of that league all the time, considering he finished with 78 points in 60 games this season. Something must have been up. Perhaps the low amount of ice time will sway him back to the NHL, but the hurdles become all 30 (31 now I guess) GM’s must sign off on his returning and he may want to dominate the Olympics for Russia as well. I would consider him a year away but his skills are starting to erode. Another former NHLer Datsyuk had eight points in seven games as he got hurt in the playoffs (surprise).
MMG was carried by Jan Kovar, Sergei Mozyakin (KHL all-time leading scorer), and Danis Zaripov, who all finished first, second and fourth respectively in points. None are on any NHL team radars as far as I could tell. One player from MMG is on NHL radars and that is the 24 year old defensemen Viktor Antipin, who finished fourth in defensemen scoring for the playoffs. He is a 5-11 defensemen but was last listed at 180lbs, and although he does not regularly put up the points he can move the puck and transition well, something all NHL GM’s covet.
The player who finished 1st overall in defensemen scoring and fourth overall in points, former Senators defenseman Chris Lee. Honestly, if I am an NHL GM looking for a cheap puck mover I would target him, he has been playing well overseas for a while now. Keep that in mind if he signs in the NHL as he could make a good final round pick.
Lokomotiv upset CSKA on the backs of big performances by Brandon Kozun (14 points in 14 games) and Andrei Loktionov (12 points in 15 games), both of whom, in my opinion, were not given the greatest chance in the NHL to succeed. Kozun rarely got a shot (LA could really use him right now), and Loktionov was hurt just as he was taking off and never got back the confidence of any NHL coaches. Jakub Nakladal finished fifth in defensemen scoring with 11 points in 15 games as he really should be in the NHL as well.
AK Bars (who lost to MMG) were carried by team leading performances from Vladimir Tkachyov (the older one not attempted to be signed by the Oilers) who had 11 points in 15 games, and Jiri Sekac who finished with 10 points in 15 games. Latest rumours have many a GM’s interested in Tkachyov, most notably Toronto.
Valeri Nichushkin finished with five points in nine games as CSKA was ousted after six games.
Kirill Kaprizov finished with three goals in five games as Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) was eliminated in five games by AK Bars. I would not be surprised if the Wild were calling him non-stop to come over, especially down 3-0 to a stingly St. Louis squad. …Yes I picked more MIN players than STL players in my playoff pools…
The younger Vladimir Tkachyov finished with three points in five games for Admiral Vladivostok, as he really should be on the radar for NHL teams.
Ilya Samsonov was great in the one game he played, and two others he tried to save, finishing with a 0.949 save percentage and a 1.28 gaa. MMG went with experience and you could not blame them as Vasily Koshechkin had a 0.940 sv% and a 2.15 gaa in 17 games.
Ilya Sorokin was given the keys to CSKA, and played well, but I believe he got hurt as the team went to Viktor Fasth and ended up losing to Lokomotiv in the quarterfinals. Sorokin finished with a 0.916 sv% and a 2.03 gaa.
Igor Shestyorkin, the goalie who dominated for SKA but then was made a back-up for playoffs, came in after Mikko Koskinen was hurt and finished the playoffs for SKA winning the championship. In the five games he played he had a 0.940 sv% and a 1.84 gaa, dominating again really. The Rangers need to do everything they can to convince this kid to stay with them and come to the NHL in the future.
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