First year is over: a lot of good, a lot bad happened and forgotten. We are the world champions, Ak Bars has the GC we are getting ready for year #2, which will bring us MHL, possible relegation of 1-2 teams, possibly (even most likely) a new team - Avto, we had the first ever draf in Russia's history, and also KHL's version of waiver draft - so called redraft. What scares me is that the distance in contracts, players quiality between the rich: Ak Bars, SU, DM, Mgn, Omsk, SKA and Loko and the rest of the league is getting too significant.
My team has lost 4 of it's top 8 scorers and 2 are suing the club trying to severe their RFA status. We only have one quality goalie left as Markanen is gone, we haven't improved our D much (Ternavskiy out - Rylov in). We got the first round draft pick, but this guy will may be able to help down the road. We got a rookie coach, cut our budget - next year is gonna be a tough one.
I am very disappointed with Maxim Kondratiev who seemed to have been NHL material and NT player, but was the wors d-man in PO with 0 points and -8 rating and Suglobov - who I though would continue his progress and hit the next level but didn't.
I have a lot more to say, but for now I hope this thread sticks and many will share their thoughts.
I think it was a great first year and the league improved a bunch over the RSL. It was great to see Riga and Bars having good seasons and hopefully there will be more parity between the top and bottom teams in the future. The MHL is very exciting and can only help our young guys after many humiliating defeats to western junior teams. I am excited to see the status of the other European teams and whether or not they will join out little hockey experiment. With the global economy getting back on track, it will happen sooner then later i think.
So do I.
OK, here's my opinion...
First of all: sorry about my English. My Russian is way better, but it doesn't help here...
In "in" and "out" graphs I've tried to mention only notable players whose names could be familiar to European and NA fans.
A huge wave of complaining has risen right after the announcement of dividing the teams in two conferences. Of course, the eastern teams' fans are the most unhappy. Their main reasons are:
East: "The best teams are on East!!! West is ****!!! Ak Bars, Metallurg, Avangard, Salavat - all of them are potential Gagarin Cup winners, no doubt about it!!!"
West: "Haha... Lokomotiv, Atlant, Dinamo Moscow and SKA are title contenders as well."
East: "Ten times a year western teams' go on road games against their division opponents by bus, eastern are using planes. This is unfair!!!"
West: "So what? There's not much you can do about it! You're living in the biggest country in the world, mates - just deal with it..."
East: "This new system is all about bringing those crappy Moscow teams back to GC finals!"
West: "Prove it."
East: "That's obvious!"
West: "C'mon! Show just one proof..."
West: "We thought so."
Unfortunately, some people from Siberia and Far East just hate "those muscovites". And even being one of "those", I must admit that they have some reasons. It's abnormal when more than 17 million square kilometres are so centralized that money from Magadan are going to Yakutsk through Moscow (you can check out the map if you don't understand what is this
Let's leave this problem to our politicians... we're talking about hockey here...
I also think that East is slightly stronger. But I bet West will be more interesting. You can easily predict the eastern PO teams (all right, in worst case - seven of them for sure...), but western prediction is way more tough and complicated. Only one team - Vityaz - is seen as an absolute outsider here. Yes, there are four teams that are stronger than the others (see them above), but the remaining seven will fight for their PO spots till the last day.
(Gorokhov, Yashin, Kudashov - out;
Zednik, Bonk, Tjarnqvist - in)
Last year finalist will most likely fight with Atlant for the first place in Kharlamov division. And remember: the first place means the home-ice advantage till the Conference Finals. Since we have best-of-seven series from the second round, that can make a difference. Loko's task is simple: win the GC. Two League Finals in a row and two losses there... I guess Yaroslavl fans are fed up with that. Yashin's loss is not a big deal, since Bonk is here (there are not many two-way centers in KHL...)
(Emery, Kolesnik, M. Johansson, Korolyuk, Pirnes, Arkhipov - out;
Luoma, Bremberg, Gerber, Mirnov, O. Petrov, Kvasha - in)
Same task I think. But I doubt they are able to pull it off. Maybe they'll even win the whole conference. But Atlant is playing a kind of Brazilian soccer concept: "You'll score as much as you can, we'll score as much as we want". But if they face a tough defending team (like Dinamo M), their road to GC should end.
(Landry, Cajanek, Zinoviev - out;
D. Vorobiev, Yepanchintsev, Saprykin, Omark, Harju, Krysanov - in)
Team with the most deep roster.
Tarasov Division winner, I guess. First PO round should become a warm-up, regardless of opponent. Then... Once Harju-Omark-Weinhandl line is OK, they will be hard to stop.
SKA St. Petersburg
(Krivokrasov, A. Johansson - out;
Sokolov, Korolyuk, Kwiatkowski, Cajanek, Yashin, M. Rybin, - in)
Last season's catastrophic first round loss has been taken into account. Yashin is a great player to have in your roster.
Second round of playoffs is my prediction. Maybe even further.
(M. Rybin, Drozdetskiy, Kabanov - out;
Cibak - in)
Miloš Řiga will surely form the Slovak line Ružicka-Cibak-Radivojevic. "Piano players" are there. But where are "piano lifters"? Spartak lost its captain (Maxim Rybin - one of the KHL "energizers" along with Alex Radulov), a top prospect (Kirill Kabanov), a group of depth players, and has yet to sign a good replacement. PO first round and a heroical 4-game loss there would be great for "red-whites". Sorry, no second round for "SKA killers" this year.
(Markkanen, Kondratiev, Yepanchintsev, Saprykin, Hedström, Hannula, Parshin(?), Shirokov(?) - out;
A. Nikulin, Hartigan, Dimitrakos - in)
I don't approve Parshin and Shirokov's "viva-la-resistance" attitude, but here's a question: what kind of a man and what kind of a coach Sergei Nemchinov is if nobody wants to play in his team? I'm afraid there will be a tough year for army-men and a real crash-test for Nemchinov.
Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod
(Noronen, Podhradsky - out;
Brückler, Krstev, V. Alexandrov, Bednař - in)
Western "dark horse", I think. Should compete for the 5th place. But nothing more.
(Prusek, Westcott, Hartigan, Marcel Hossa, Sirokovs - out;
M. Kariya, Ozolinsh - in)
Of course, Ozolinsh is all-Latvian hero and stuff like that, but Hartigan and Hossa can't be replaced effectively with the players Riga has now.
Well, at least Dinamo always has its fans... They're really awesome.
(Chiodo, Lintner - out;
Mezin, Westcott, Boumedienne, Sevc, J. Andersson - in)
In contrast with Riga, Minsk became stronger. I won't be surprised if Belarus team will finish higher than Latvian.
(Trubachev, Kwiatkowski - out;
Smrek, Zagrapan - in)
Severstal remains the same. Not any stronger, but surely not any weaker.
Sounds obvious, but "steelers" have to concentrate on games with their equals and get "their" points. The awful habit of losing these games cost them the PO last year.
HC MVD Balashikha
(Pollock, Antonenko - out;
Skopintsev, Kudashov - in)
You can't make the playoffs without a number one goalie. Crying about Biryukov departure instead of looking for a proper substitution is a road to nowhere. Or maybe they just have no money...
(Walser - out)
Does anyone see any chance for Vityaz to achieve something? Hey, hey, relax - winning "Chris Simon Trophy" by Chris Simon isn't considered as an achievement. 1st overall draft pick next year.
Ak Bars Kazan
(Norrena, Mĺrtensson, O. Petrov, Hentunen - out;
Tellqvist, Shchadilov, Tereshchenko, Ketov, Immonen - in)
Retaining the GC is the only thing that matters to Ak Bars. Any other result will be a failure.
And Kazan now has the Russian national team's first line: Morozov-Tereshchenko-Zaripov. I feel sorry for their Chernyshev division opponents...
Salavat Yulaev Oufa
(D. Vorobiev, Shchadilov, Cermak, Mikeska, Tereshchenko, I. Radulov - out;
Gorokhov, Kalinin, Kondratiev, A. Johansson, Thoresen, Viktor Kozlov, Zinoviev - in)
Winning regular season and losing in the first round... how hard it is? Oufa fans can tell you about it.
Bobrov division's hot favourite, Salavat will do its best not to repeat last season mistakes. Kozlov and Kalinin will surely help.
(Mezin, Mirnov, Pushkarev - out;
S. Fedorov, F. Fedorov, I. Radulov, Koivisto, Kontiola - in)
"Fedorov, Fedorov, Fedorov..." I mean Sergei of course Everyone is talking about his return. Just like "Jágr, Jágr, Jágr..." last year. Metallurg's attack is really looking solid now (not meaning it wasn't solid with Platonov, Kaigorodov etc...) But their defence is a concern... Atyushov, E. Varlamov... and that's all!!! And will Ilya Proskuryakov maintain the pressure of being the undisputable number one? That's why I put Magnitka just a step below Ak Bars in their division.
Avangard Omsk Region
(Fomichev, V. Alexandrov - out;
Ramo, L. Kukkonen - in)
If The Hawks are in the good mood, it's better to get out of their way... If not, their play leaves a lot... no, A LOT to be desired. Arguably the most run-n-gun team in the whole league, and the most unbalanced I think. Need some defence. Badly. Kukkonen is a good signing - though he's not so big, he has some speed. Should suit KHL well.
Hawks' attack is too high-octane to let Omsk fall lower than 4th place (remember? Jágr, Jágr, Jágr... Yes, he's 37 - and so what? Fedorov's almost 40).
(Ciernik - out;
Fomichev, Mikeska, Cermak, Emeleev - in)
Eastern Torpedo. Sibir won't even be close to the top-4 but their roster looks definitely stronger than other eastern teams.
(Kvasha - out;
Abid - in)
Yes-yes... Ramzi Abid. Probably the hardest-hitting team in the league (won't you shut up at last, Mr. Simon? I said "probably") should become even more hard and unpleasant to opponents. There's no surprise - Traktor's coach name is Andrei Nazarov
(Lamothe, Mezei - out;
Podhradsky - in)
Barys' management's ultimate job of re-signing Dallman and Stumpel is done. Is it enough to make the PO again? I think so.
(Emeleev, F. Fedorov - out;
Quint, Persson, Arkhipov - in)
Nothing special. Fighting for playoff spot. And most likely successful.
(Ketov, Krysanov - out;
Kukumberg - in)
My favourite Eastern team ... Yet another financial disaster forced Lada to trade their scoring leaders for absolutely nothing, but the biggest Togliatti assets are still here. I'm talking about a head coach - Petr Vorobiev, and a 6-foot-7 tall goalie Vasili Koshechkin (8 shut-outs in regular season - sounds nice, huh?). And Vorobiev's defence, which had been torturing CSKA for the whole five games in the last PO, is also alive. There's only one question: who will score goals?
P.S.:Samara Region governor doesn't give a **** about hockey, and that's a pity. CSK VVS is already died.
Right now Lada's on the way...
(Sokolov - out)
No offense. No defence. No playoffs. Just like last year.
(Sirokovs - in)
Khabarovsk is very far away from other KHL towns. As far as from the playoffs.
To be honest, I have no idea what KHL newcomer has in store. There aren't any well-known players here, maybe, except Yegor Podomatski, Radek Philipp and Oleg Antonenko. Let's see what Marek Sykora will do with Avto.
If Dynamo Moscow can get Afinogenov, i think they can go very far.
That would be a really scary forward corps to go up against.
Does anyone have links for full rosters? All I have is Elite Prospects, and their rosters aren't complete: Dynamo Moscow has three defenders and no goalie. (They also don't have Vityaz Chekov listed, even though they'll be back in the league this year.)