MHL ads in Moscow

While the Kabanov case goes on MHL hockey presents you some pics I shoot myself in Moscow, featuring the MHL ads on the city's streets.

Spartak's Alexander Khokhlachev:

Red Army's Alexei Marchenko:

And last but not the least, Montreal Canadien's and Dinamo's Alexander Avtsin:


The Ivan Telegin's case

Ivan Telegin, one of the most 1992 born talented players, is reporting to the OHL. But he did it in an unusual way...

To better explain, here follows a translation of an article by Kirill Petrov appeared a couple of weeks ago on the popular Russian portal allhockey.ru

Allhockey.ru's analyst tried to clarify the situation created around Metallurg Novokuznetsk's center Ivan Telegin, who recently bought out his contract with his team in order to pursue a North American career.

In all his latest interviews, being them to Russian or Canadian press, you could see that he appeared offended by his alma mater club which, in the player's opinion, is guilty to not see in him such a talent like forward Maxim Kitsyn or blue liner Dmitri Orlov, national junior team's players who debucted for Metallurg Novokuznetsk during the last season.

Telegin, differently from another national team player from Metallurg, goalkeeper Sergei Kostenko, won't be back in Novokuznetsk. He's awaiting his chance in North America.

However, it's certainly known that in case of his depart to America the national junior team Vladimir Kryuchkov won't call him. In spite of that, he's now practicing in the team's first line with Kirill Kabanov (and Stanislav Galiev - ASR).

"I've discussed with Ivan, I've asked him to remain in Novokuznetsk, where he would now get as much ice time as possible" - said Metallurg Nk's GM Valeri Rozhikin. "But the guy choose a different development way. He decided to leave overseas."

Team's head coach Dmitri Parkhomenko, who got appointed this summer after the team decided to fire Soviet legend Boris Mikhailov, is dissatisfied too. But he never tried to obstacle Telegin’s plans and during this offseason Ivan took part to [Metallurg Nk’s MHL team] Kuznetskie Medvedi’s training camp for a week and even to an ice session with the main team.

"It's his life, his career...I can only give the guy some advices, but it's of course up to him only – added Parkhomenko.

Metallurg Nk's head coach patiently awaited for the club's graduate to change idea and remain with the club for a further couple of seasons, like defenseman Dmitri Orlov did even if he was drafted in the late july by the Caps with the 55th overall pick.

But starting from middle March, when Metallurg Nk came back from Magnitogorsk as gold medal winners in the Russian Championship for juniors 1991-92 born, Telegin practically hadn't train with the team. At first the player suffered from a shoulder problem, then he had some rocky time at school. Differently from most of his gold medal team mates, who will carry on their education in the [Novokuznetsk’s university] VUZ, Telegin is yet to take a decision. North America had already been promised to the player. For Ivan himself the depart for the Canadian junior leagues is a chance to get picked up in the 2010 NHL entry draft, but as far as now it's evident that Telegin still can't shadow the likes of Kirill Kabanov, Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

But Telegin gets his own track. According to allhockey.ru inside information, the sum for breaking his contract was 800,000 rubles, around $25,000. It's interesting that a 17 years old guy from Russia tried to get a foreign agent, while his Russian agent (Sergei Paremuzov – the same as Sergei Shirokov, ASR) was interested in having him stay at home.

But even without Telegin, “Kuznya” won't sink. Playmaking center Sergei Simonov might already crack not only Metallurg Nk's lineup, but he might also get in the roster of Kryuchkov's under 18 national team. Telegin's departure opens a door also to other champion team mates like defenseman Zakhar Arzamastsev and Ivan Strebkov.

The same Telegin won't sink without Metallurg Nk. The guy is now going to repeat Alexander Radulov's path, trying to break the NHL after consolidating in the junior leagues. Will he be successful? Or will he give up? We'll know only with time...


MHL gets two new teams

After a meeting in Moscow with MHL director Dmitri Efimov, some decisions have been taken, the most important one is regarding the teams playing in the league. Two new teams have been admitted to the league, even though differently.

MHK Krylya Sovetov, who will play in Setun (Moscow), will start playing in the MHL directly in September 4th, when the league will start. They and Feniks Voskresensk will be the only teams without a KHL counterpart.

The second team instead will eventually enter in the MHL only if they will win (or get the first seeds, that's not yet announced) in the qualification tournament that will be played on 2010 February/March. The team is Amur Khabarovsk's junior team.

Unfortunately, some details haven't been announced yet, exactly like the format of the qualification tournament for the 2010/11 season.

Dmitri Efimov in the end of the press conference also announced that in the next season the league will probably host more teams and that, possibly, the MHL will feature also foreign teams.


Kirill Kabanov: going to Canada would be the best option

After Kirill Kabanov has been announced to Salavat Yulaev Ufa many rumors arisen. At first it looked like his new head coach Vyacheslav Bykov would have offered him not less than 10 minutes of ice play, quite impressive considering how stacked the team is. But then further rumors has been spread, especially about him reporting to Moncton, the team which drafted him on the latest CHL Import Draft with the seventh overall pick. In this interview by Andrei Osadchenko and translated by Alessandro Seren Rosso Kabanov confirmed the latter...

Did you recieve any other offer, a part the one from Salavat?

Yes, from Atlant, Metallurg Mg and Lokomotiv. I don't know, maybe Spartak asked too much money for the transfer.

Would you agree to play in the MHL for Salavat's farm team?

The contract they offered me was one-way, without the possibility to play in the junior league.

Recently in the press they wrote about a possible move to Moncton of the QMJHL. Is this realistic?

I think that as far as now it's the best option.

Did the Wildcats talk with you?

Yes. Now we go to Slovakia (for the Ivan Hlinka Tournament - note), where my agent is awaiting me with the contract. I've signed the transfer card. I'll wait for KHL decision, where they will send me and if nothing works out I'll go to Moncton. The fact is that should I go to Salavat or remain with Spartak, then I'll be locked in Russia 'til I'll be 28. I'll have a professional contract until I'll be 22, then I can only play for Salavat or being traded to another KHL team. As far as now, this is what I think it's written in the league's rulebook.

Many experts give you high ratings for the next NHL draft. Would you like to play in the NHL?

Yeah. Well, I would not want this, but, as i've told u already, they taught us that, when we played in the children hockey.
They taught us, that the NHL is everything. Life, money, glory it's the top of hockey's world... Now Russia is going on the correct way. They advise the youngsters not to go there and they made everything to prevent it. I was bred up in a different way. I was trained who prepared Ovechkin and Kovalchuk, who now play in the NHL. I don't know, maybe nowadays youngsters grown thinking that the KHL is everything. I even saw a commercial with a kid saying "KHL is my future". It's possible that this is why they grow up like that, and it's correct. It's good to remain in Russia, but now I have another aim. This is my childhood dream. League's and Russia's ambitions play no role here. I'm a patriot. I'm always ready to play for my country, but this is my childhood dream and I want to fulfill it.

Many guys of your generation used to cheer for Detroit and wanted to play exactly in that team. It's correct to believe that it's the same for you?

I'll say you this. I'm from a northern country, it snows during winter and the summer isn't too warm. This is why I'd like to play in a southern team. For example, Los Angeles. Or in Las Vegas, if they'll create a team there. (laughs) Why not? It's great! Receive your salary and lose it right here at once! (laughs)

What do you know about the Moncton Wildcats?

I know that Moncton is a holiday city. And there is a rich, ambitious team. They picked up many players and they are doing everything to win the Memorial Cup. The team belongs to the Irwing family. They have an oil company in Canada. The team is very good and could compete with KHL teams. They have a 7000 seats arena and a lot of fans.

What do you know about the QMJHL?

I'm not that familiar with Quebec. More with Ontario, I had many offers from there.

On what will depend your decision about where to play the next season?

Probably It will depend on what actions Salavat will do - how and in what order they will sign a contract with me. Whether it will be the same contract I had with Spartak or not.
With Spartak I had a 3+2 contract. That means up to 2010 plus other two years should I carry on my KHL career. Thus now I'm on a 1+2 contract as it was a 5 years deal. If Salavat will offer me a 1+2 contract, then I will sign thus I can increase my raiting. If Salavat won't offer me such a contract, then probably I'll go to Canada. But in principle, I would already play there because I want to play in that league, and I'm ready for that. At least, I think so!

MHL website "coming soon"

Today it was announced that the MHL website will be launched soon, right on time for the first match scheduled for September 4th. The site's address is the following: http://mhl.khl.ru/

The introduction is very, very nice and features CSKA's Alexei Marchenko vs Dynamo's Alexander Avtsin. The Russian text down the picture says simply "September 4th - Start of the Russian Junior League". Hopefully it will have an English version, but nothing has been announced about that.

Sorry for the short post, but there is really nothing else to say about this! In my next post I will talk about Kirill Kabanov as there are some news about his teamin the upcoming season.


Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament to host MHL stars

I've published an article at Russian Prospects about the upcoming Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, which will feature some of the top MHL young players.
Ivan Hlinka Tournament is an international Under 18 tournament which is played every year in Czech Republic and Slovakia featuring national teams of Russia, Canada, USA, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. There will be two groups, one in Breclav (Czech Republic), and another in Piestany (Slovakia). Russia will play in the latter with USA, Slovakia and Finland. The winners of the two groups will face in the tournament's final, scheduled for August 15th.

Team Russia will play two preparation matches in Norway, against the local under 18 national team, on August 8th and 9th. Yesterday (August 6th), a match between Under 20 and Under 18 Russian national teams has been played, and oddly enough the younger team got the W 2-1 with goals by Bogdan Potekhin and Stefan Stepanov. Washington Capitals' prospect Dmitry Kugryshev scored for the Under 20 team.

The star of the selection will be undoubtedly Kirill Kabanov, but most likely he won't play in the MHL next year and thus the most interesting players for our purpose are the following (two for role):

G Pavel Suchkov (Krasnaya Armiya) and Kirill Brashkin (Ladia Togliatti)

The two players will probably share starting duties, with Suchkov maybe advantaged. They are two good goalies, but both probably a little bit undersized, especially the first. Though they are going to backstop their hometown club in the first MHL season. 

D Stefan Stepanov and Alexei Marchenko (Krasnaya Armiya)

Both premier offensive defenseman, Stepanov and Marchenko will probably play in the top two lines. Stepanov, who did score in the exhibition against the Under 20 team, has already played in the National Junior team last year in the Tyumen tournament, being one of the youngest players in the team, while Marchenko has played only for Russia-92. Though Marchenko has been portraited as one of the four "faces of the league" for the MHL. Both have NHL potential, but probably Stepanov is more NHL ready as far as now, especially regarding the physical play.

F Vladislav Namestnikov (Feniks) and Sergei Barbashev (Krasnaya Armiya)

Just as usual, the forwards are the strongest part of team Russia. Kirill Kabanov is surely the team's star, but he's going to play in the KHL for Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Vladislav Namestnikov, who plays for Khimik Voskresensk's junior team, is a skilled center with elite technique and excellent mental game who makes him a clutch player, while CSKA's Sergei Barbashev is your prototypical Russian winger, very quick and a tad small. 

Other prospects with potential are Stanislav Galiev (who's going to play for St. John in the QMJHL), Stalnye Lisy's Evgeny Grigorenko and center Ivan Telegin, who recently bought off his contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk in order to go playing in the OHL.

But two of the most interesting players to watch will be the younger ones: Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko. Both 2012 eligible, if we were some years ago (with less NHL-KHL conflicts) they might have been thought as possible 1-2 in the draft like Ovechkin and Malkin in 2004. Late 1993-born Nail Yakupov, from Nizhnekamsk, is a speedy, technical winger, while Mikhail Grigorenko, who is from Khabarovsk even if plays for CSKA Moscow, is a dominant playmaking center who played last year first line hockey with Team Russia-93, surely a great result for a player one year younger than the rest. This season he made a further step forward as he'll play with (and against) players two years older than him.


Q&A with Andrei Osadchenko

Andrei Osadchenko is a Russian hockey journalist who covers junior hockey (and more) for the popular portal allhockey.ru who recently moved to Canada. He actually made many of the interviews I've been translating for www.russianprospects.com

In this question and answer Andrei talked about the prospects of the new MHL and about some of the league's future stars... MHL hockey thanks Andrei for his time and for giving us this excellent reading.

- Hello Andrei. Why do you like junior hockey so much? It's not common in Russia and in Europe after all…

- Honestly, I don't even know the answer to that question myself. I guess, it's just because I love hockey in general. It really doesn't matter if that’s a pee-wee tournament or an NHL exhibition game we're talking about. Hockey has been in my life for so long that, in fact, it is my life. And I love every single part of it.

- Talking about the newly-formed MHL, what do you think about its creation? Which prospects it can offer to Russian junior players?

- Obviously it's a great improvement for Russian hockey. It's a huge step forward. We had too many players that would quit hockey just because there was no league for them to play in. You can't on that everybody is going to be as good as Malkin or Ovechkin, right? It's never going to be this way. Let's say you're 18 years old. You don’t play for your hockey-school team anymore. Yet, you can't make the roster neither of the big team like CSKA or Ak Bars, nor of it's farm-club. It's just way to competitive at this level. So what are your options? The easiest would be to quit. You can't blame those guys. They've got to do something with their lives and let's face it – hockey's a tough business. Now, on the other hand, you got the MHL where you actually can play and get a chance to improve.

- Do you think the creation of the MHL will prevent junior players walk towards the CHL?

- No, I don't think so. And let me explain why. If you look at the guys who went overseas to in the CHL, you can easily notice that they are pretty talented. You don’t see an average Russian junior playing in the OHL or QJMHL, do you? All the players that were drafted by CHL teams were the best Russian juniors at that particular time. Look at the recent draft results – Burmistrov, Kabanov, Pivtsakin… These guys won silver medals at the latest U-18 World Championship. And the list goes on. Are they going to play in Canada? Well, if they can't make to the KHL, most likely, yes, they are. Why's that? I have to say that the level of the MHL is not going to be as high as the CHL. So, in a nut-shell – the MHL is a good thing for an average player, but could easily turn out as a step-back for the best juniors there are.

- You surely have seen the first MHL logos revealed. Which one do you like the most?

- Yes, I did see the first logos that came out. To tell you the truth, there's only one that I really like. The one Sibirskie Snaipery got. This thing looks amazing. I sure hope the team itself is going to be just as the logo.

- The first MHL fotosession featured Alexander Avtsin from Dinamo, Aleksandr Khokhlachev from Spartak, Alexei Marchenko from CSKA and Arseni Kardailski from Atlant. But surely there will be other interesting players. Can you tell us some names? Do you think Ainars Podzins might be one of them?

- I'd be really happy if Ainars, who's a good friend of mine, would play in the MHL. Actually, I think he'd be one of the best in the league. But the thing is, his team has yet to confirm its participation in the upcoming season in the MHL. If not, he's going to play either in Vyschaya Liga or Pervaya Liga, which might be a good experience. Especially if Alexei Kasatonov will promote him to the main team of Krylia Sovetov. This way he'd be playing against older opponents, which is definitely way better for his development. As for the other names, I'm pretty sure that Eugeny Grigorenko from Stalnye Lisy is going to be a huge star of the MHL as well as his team-mate Bogdan Potekhin. There are a lot of talented players in Krasnaya Armiya and MHK Dynamo. Namely Barbashev, Suchkov, Zotov, Ilminskyi, Fetisov… These are just a few names but then, of course, I can go on all day.

- Many could argue that having the MHL teams playing in the same arenas as the main one might be an error as the teams will have around 100 spectators, and they also indicate that the teams should play in city where KHL or Vyschaya Liga aren't present. On the other hand one might feel like the facilities in cities like Kazan, Omsk, and so on, are undoubtfully better than the ones in minor cities. What's your opinion on this matter?

- I really doubt that there's going to be a lot of spectators at the MHL games this season. You already answered your own question. MHL teams have to play in different cities. The question is – who's going to pay for all this? For instance, why does Dynamo Moscow have to pay for some other city so just there would be a hockey team? It doesn't make any sense. In North America minor teams are independent and that's the reason of their success. It's a whole different story in Russia. Besides, hockey in general is not that popular in Russia. Of course, there are some hockey-obsessed cities like Omsk or Toliatti but there's not a lot of them. It's Canada where you can throw a puck to bunch of 13-years-old kids and there's going to be a packed arena watching them play. We still have to work to make hockey popular in Russia. Because today, I hate to say it, hockey loses to soccer and by a huge margin.

- So now the tough job of the predictions: who will win the first MHL title? Anyone is looking to CSKA, Dinamo and such teams, but the last Russian Finals have been won by Orlov's Metallurg Novokuznetsk. What's your say?

- It's funny that you brought it up. I don't even know why did Orlov and Kitsyn played at that tournament. There were on the roster of Metallurg which plays in the KHL. Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm quite sure that KHL players are eligible to play in that kind of tournament. Anyway, I have to say that the favorites are as follows – Krasnaya Armiya, Stalnye Lisy, Loko and MHK Dynamo. I would probably bet on Krasnaya Armiya but I know that there's a lot of MHL players that see the Stalnye Lisy as the main cup contenders this season. I have to add that Almaz should not be underestimated. You don’t talk about these guys now, but let's wait another 2 or 3 months. A lot of people might be surprised looking at the standings. And don't forget it's junior hockey we're talking about here. It's always hard to predict.

- Another prediction, maybe a tad easier. On September 4th there will be the first ever MHL match between Krasnaya Armiya and MHK Dinamo. Alexander Avtsin told that their team will grab the win, do you agree with him?

- What else do you want to say? That's what he's supposed to say. Personally, I think it's going to be close one but Krasnya Armiya will win eventually.