Let’s go for a fall. Top players who changed the KHL to the VHL in the offseason
The active part of the selection of the Kontinental Hockey League clubs is gradually coming to an end. Many teams have almost fully formed their rosters, and there was no room in them for many players with extensive experience in playing in the main Russian hockey league. Some of the hockey players left without work moved to Europe, while others moved to a lower level – by signing contracts in the VHL. Here is a list of the most famous players who changed the KHL for the VHL this offseason.
n. Alexander Kucheryavenko, 33 years old, Dynamo (St. Petersburg)
Club in the 2020/2021 season – Neftekhimik / Dynamo (Moscow): 17 (8 + 9) points in 41 matches (statistics including the playoffs).
Last season, the 33-year-old striker started at Neftekhimik, and the experienced striker played the first part of the regular season at a high level. In the Nizhnekamsk club, Kucheryavenko was on a very good schedule, gaining over 0.5 points per match. In 29 meetings, Alexander had 15 effective actions. Such statistics attracted the attention of Dynamo Moscow, which traded Kucheryavenko for Nikita Popugaev .
This deal did not benefit either the player or his new club. Alexander’s problems began from the moment when, in his last match for Neftekhimik, he was seriously injured, as a result of which he could not go on the ice for a month. Ironically, this happened just in the match against Dynamo, in the camp of which he went to the deadline. The head coach of the blue-and-white Vladimir Krikunov , who worked quite successfully with the striker at Avtomobilist, was counting on the striker , but the striker’s debut in the Moscow club was constantly postponed. Having managed to play only four matches for Dynamo, Kucheryavenko received another injury, again going to the infirmary.
As a result, Oleksandr failed to get in optimal shape for the start of the playoffs and in the decisive matches he was unable to help Dynamo. In the Gagarin Cup, he spent eight games without gaining a single point and earning a negative utility indicator. It is not surprising that in the offseason Kucheryavenko could not find a new club in the KHL and went to the VHL. It is curious that the Russian has signed a contract with the St. Petersburg Dynamo, which is affiliated with its Moscow teammates. However, Alexander’s contract with the VHL club is unilateral, and he will not be able to return to the camp of the capital club directly from St. Petersburg.
in. Ilya Proskuryakov, 34 years old, Dynamo (St. Petersburg)
Club in the season 2020/2021 – Dynamo (Riga): 1 victory in 14 regular season matches with a reliability coefficient of 3.09 and a percentage of reflected shots of 88.7.
Last season, Proskuryakov, who left HC Sochi, was supposed to start in the VHL in the Ugra club. But the head coach of Riga “Dynamo” Peteris Skudra came to the aid of Ilya , who invited the well-known goalkeeper to the Latvian team. For various reasons, the Russian goalkeeper was unable to take advantage of this chance. Dynamo Riga constantly experienced problems with the coronavirus, every now and then playing with a heavily weakened squad due to the absence of leading hockey players.
And Proskuryakov himself did not look like a stronghold of reliability, every now and then missing unnecessary washers. The result was the worst season of the 34-year-old goalkeeper’s career in all statistics. This offseason, Ilya signed a bilateral contact with Dynamo Moscow and was immediately sent to the location of the St. Petersburg club. It is very difficult to believe that the goalkeeper’s services will be useful to the main team of the Dynamo system in the new season.
n. Igor Polygalov, 34 years old, “Oilman”
Club in the 2020/2021 season – Traktor: 12 (4 + 8) points in 44 matches (statistics including playoffs).
Last summer, the head coach of Traktor Anvar Gatiyatulin was one of the initiators of Igor Polygalov, who was in the status of a free agent, to return to Chelyabinsk. In “Traktor” Igor has established himself as a reliable player, balancing between the second and third links. Then Polygalov was summoned to Dynamo by Krikunov, who knew the forward well from his joint work at Neftekhimik. In the Russian capital, Igor played only one season, after which the paths of the coach and the player parted ways, and Igor again became a Traktor player.
However, the return of the 34-year-old striker to the camp of the Ural club certainly cannot be called successful. In the KHL, the Russian striker has played without interruption throughout the league’s existence – and last season turned out to be the worst for him in terms of performance. The hockey player barely managed to pass the 10-point mark – and naturally he did not receive a new contract from Traktor. Now Polygalov will play for the Almetyevsk Neftyanik.
h. Alexander Osipov, 32 years old, Rubin
Club in the 2020/2021 season – Neftekhimik: 11 (4 + 7) points in 55 regular season matches with a utility of -13.
A pupil of Tyumen hockey, who has played in the KHL since 2009, defender Alexander Osipov returned to his native land. The heyday of the career of the Russian defender was the time at Amur, spent under the leadership of Hannu Yortikki. In the 2012/2013 season, Alexander fully revealed his attacking potential, having managed to shoot 12 goals in 42 matches. Osipov was the leading defender of the “Tigers” and with his mighty throw every now and then he pierced the rivals’ goalkeepers almost through and through. Such a hockey player’s performance led him first to Atlant, and then to SKA.
Following Osipov, he changed several more top clubs in the league, among which were Ak Bars, Moscow Dynamo and Avangard. But in none of them did Alexander manage to reach the indicators that he had in the peak season for Amur. Gradually, Alexander’s career in the KHL tended to decline, and last season Osipov spent in Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, gaining only 11 (4 + 7) points in 55 matches. The defender’s throw is still strong, but he lacked accuracy at the KHL level, and at his goal the hockey player was never distinguished by increased reliability.
n. Mikhail Yunkov, 35 years old, “Chemist”
Club in the 2020/2021 season – Spartak: 11 (2 + 9) points in 52 matches of the regular season with a utility of -10.
The 35-year-old striker is also close to putting an end to his performance in the KHL. For 13 seasons in the history of the league, Mikhail has not missed a single championship, playing a total of 622 matches. At one time, Yunkov’s services interested Metallurg Magnitogorsk, in whose camp in 2014 an experienced striker won the Gagarin Cup for the first time in his career. Mikhail’s finest hour was the last two matches of the playoffs final with Lev, in each of which he scored 2 (1 + 1) points.
Two years later, Yunkov could repeat the winning experience with CSKA, but the Moscow club lost to Magnitogorsk in the decisive series of the season. Then Mikhail played for such teams as Avangard and Salavat Yulaev, and over the past two years he defended the colors of Spartak. In the offseason, the Moscow club did not offer the striker a new agreement, and Yunkov went to finish his career in Voskresensk, where the farm club of the red-and-white – “Khimik” is based.