Just because the coronavirus body slammed the sports world in a virtual TKO, this doesn’t mean that leagues are going to stop moving completely. This is nothing more than a temporary setback and, at some point, play has to resume. The NBA might be ready to start back up next month and the NFL is still hoping it won’t be forced to delay its September start. MLB is now exploring different options and the NHL is only guardedly hopeful that it can get back on the ice.
In case hockey gets going again, teams want to be ready, and are prepared to source talent from as far away as Russia to make it happen.
North America Calls Russia To Find Players
Russia’s primary hockey league, the KHL, canceled the rest of the season because of COVID-19 – something hockey fans in North America hope doesn’t have to happen. However, as a result, KHL players are now eligible to be recruited by NHL teams, and movement has already begun. Typically, the players would have had to wait until April 30th to be able to sign any NHL contracts, but the cancellation is moving up the timeline.
Alexander Barabanov became one of the first Russian players to be recruited for the NHL when the Toronto Maple Leafs went after him. He’s not alone, as Pavel Datsyuk is rumored to be planning a return to the league, and Alexander Romanov is reportedly ready to put on a Montreal Canadiens jersey after the team initially drafted him in 2018. The Minnesota Wild also have their eyes on the former Soviet Union, possibly considering forward Kirill Kaprizov as a strong candidate for the team.
Kaprizov had been drafted by the Wild years ago, in 2015, but was subsequently sent off to the KHL. This past season, he logged 33 goals and 62 points while playing for CSKA Moscow, and Minnesota apparently feels that he’s found his hockey legs.
The Edmonton Oilers, who were second in the Pacific Division before the coronavirus stopped the action, had hoped to bring over Anton Slepyshev from the KHL. However, the former Oilers left winger is comfortable where he is and denied the offer. This means that Edmonton is now going to be looking for some strength and might have to let a few players go so it can free up some capital.
The Oilers are also dedicating part of their time to help out a teammate. Colby Cave, who played for the Boston Bruins from 2014 to 2019 before making his way to Edmonton, is in a medically-induced coma in a Toronto hospital. He had emergency surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was putting pressure on his brain, and the coma is designed to limit his movement and help the swelling go down.
Teams Back Home Look To Fortify Lineups
Not all of the movement in the league centers on bringing over players from Russia – there is still enough talent currently in the NHL and in collegiate hockey to be considered. The St. Louis Blues are reportedly going to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo, one of the team’s best defensive players from the current season.
He had scored 16 goals in 70 games, racking up 52 points at the same time, putting him in second place for points for any pending free agent defender. The Blues are going to count on him to continue his performance once the hiatus is over, and, according to some reports, is willing to pay extra to make it happen.
The Arizona Coyotes are looking for a fresh start and have apparently made an offer to bring on Cameron Crotty. The 20-year-old prospect has been playing for Boston University, but the Coyotes have wooed him up to the big leagues, resulting in his decision to skip his final year at the school. Arizona is impressed enough with his performance – four goals and five assists in 30 games in the most recent season – that they are giving him a three-year contract.
The Penalty Kill Shot Heard Around The World
Today marks a historical day that the Bruins will never forget. A decade ago, against the Carolina Hurricanes, the team recorded the most productive penalty kill in the history of the league, a feat that no one thought could be possible.
In the first period of the game, which had gone scoreless up to that point, the Bruins, thanks to Matt Hunwick, found themselves one man down. Despite Carolina having the advantage, the Bruins went in to score three goals in about 90 seconds. The Hurricanes never knew what hit them.