Prospects breakdown - MHL who's who (Part 2)

After we presented you the players to watch in Moscow and its nearby towns, we present now the rest of the Western Conference. A team that always produced lots of talent is Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. A prominent careers builder, the former railroad workers team always had lots of young players with itself. It's not a case that they are now on the top of Western Conference's standings. Nowadays' most interesting player is a versatile forward who isn't spending much time in the MHL as he's playing with the big boys in the KHL and just recently scored his first goal. We're talking about Daniil Sobchenko, an offensive player capable to play both center and winger who almost never represented Russia on the international stage because of conflicts with Vladimir Plyuschev. Sobchenko, who has his excellent passing game as main weapon, was thought to be one of the MHL stars, but he's going beyond the expectations, playing a regular role in the KHL. Another player meant to be one of the MHL top players is Anton Klementyev, who instead opted to sign an ELC with the New York Islanders. Sergei Ostapchuk, who spent last season in the QMJHL with Rouyn-Noranda, skated in only two games, getting an assist in both challenges. Also Ostapchuk already got his KHL experience. Maybe, coming the late stages, Loko will see these players more often, trying to catch the first-ever MHL title. For now, they are a team who plays a good team game without depending too much on one or two players. Top goalscorer Maxim Zyuzyakin is on good shape, he scored the GWG in the recent clash against MHK Dinamo and netted a total of 6 goals so far.

The third seed in the West is taken by SKA-1946. The St. Petersburg's team, who's coached by Italo-Canadian Ivano Zanatta, had the first-ever MHL shutout with its 1988-born goalie Nikita Starikov, who's having a convincing season so far even if he's still far from the KHL level. His colleague Evgeny Ivannikov is having a good season too. One of the most awaited players from me for this season was offensive defenseman Georgy Berdyukov, Georgy Berdyukov but he was quickly sent to SKA's High League affiliated to play against men. An interesting name is Magomed Gimbatov, and not only because he's the first KHL player from Dagestan. Grow up in St. Petersburg and earned his hockey experience both in this city and in Novokuznetsk, the dynamic winger has played only four games so far as he started the season with the main team, but he scored four points. The team's top scorer is surprisingly Yaroslav Gorbachenko, author of 11 points in ten games. The 20-years old is in a red hot strike as he scored six games in the last three games, but the whole team looks like being in great shape as they just asphalted Mytischie Atlanty 7-0 at home. Gorbachenko was also the shoot-out scorer in the SKA-1946's 1-0 win against Feniks Voskresensk in September 6th. The St. Petersburg team has also got one of the league's top assistmen in Nikita Tochitsky.

It's legit to expect some good things also from Almaz Cherepovets. The team has hosted a good number of younger players with big success, including Phoenix Coyotes' Viktor Tikhonov, Boston's draftee Yuri Alexandrov, Maxim Chudinov and others. In the start of the year two-way defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich was with Almaz, but he has been called up in the KHL and never sent back to the junior team. Another really interesting player is center Sergei Chvanov. Back in April he was team Russia's captain in the U18 WJC in the USA (where Russia lost the final match to the hosts), but curiously he's not Almaz's captain, a role taken by forward Anton Tikhonov. Chvanov isn't having too much of success, he scored a double in the very first match, then he scored again in the following match and then he disappeared from the scoresheet, but he's also went to the KHL route and thus isn't having too many chances in both leagues. There is another player worth mentioning: the homonym of Metallurg Novokuznetsk defenseman, Washington Capitals draftee Dmitri Orlov. The talented winger plays first line hockey and has rewarded his team with eight points in as many matches, with five goals so far. Despite his undeniable talent he needs to find some consistency as he doesn’t manage to score on a regular basis as he tends getting many points in one game just to be silent for the next couple of contests.
Chaika from Nizhny Novgorod isn’t having a good season so far and in their lineup they don’t feature any real star. They are now third-last in the Western Conference standings, just ahead of Feniks Voskresensk and Mytischie Atlanty.

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