The 2nd best hockey league in the world just wrapped up their regular season, 60 Kontinental Hockey League games for teams in Russia, Finland, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan, and China.
The usual suspects sit atop the league with CSKA Moskva and SKA St. Petersburg leading the West, Ak Bars Kazan and Avangard Omsk tops in the East. That’s not what concerns North American teams though, their focus is on poaching the talent that elevates teams to the top of the KHL. Artemi Panarin is the most impactful example, finishing in the top 20 in NHL scoring each season since signing with Chicago in 2015.
In the 5 years or so since Panarin came to North America there has been plenty of other skaters to sign out of the KHL. Not all of them met expectations, or even played a game in the NHL. Still, the opportunity to land an NHL contributor for under $1 million is a massive incentive to scout the KHL. If it takes three tries to land a player like Ilya Mikheyev, NHL clubs should be willing to take three swings.
Before the NHL season started I spent a lot of time watching KHL games and highlights, and narrowed down a list …
Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation