Who was gathered in the East? Rating of legionnaire brigades of Russian KHL clubs
On September 1, the new KHL regular championship should start with a match for the Opening Cup. We tell you about the legionnaire brigades of the KHL clubs and give them an assessment. In the first part, the Russian teams of the Western Conference were considered, and now we turn to the East, leaving out of attention “Barys” and “Kunlun Red Star”. Foreign KHL clubs live in our league according to their own rules and do not obey the limit for legionnaires, which applies to Russian teams, which means that their legionnaire brigades should be judged according to different rules. It is unfair to approach the five foreigners of Russian clubs with the same scale and evaluate the foreign clubs that set the rules for themselves with the same yardstick.
10. “Admiral” – 5.0
Legionnaires: n. Kestner, n. Bukarts, z. Mozik (?), Z. Shulak (?)
The new-old KHL club faced big problems in breeding work this offseason. Due to debts to the players and the former head coach, the Primorsky club was repeatedly denied access to the CIB, which is why the Far East could not register new contracts. Now in the “Admiral” on contracts there are only two foreign players – this is the newcomer of the league Josh Kestner and the well-known Roberts Bukarts. The general director of “seamen” Alexey An in an interview with “Championship” said that in the near future two more players from the Czech Republic should join the team. These hockey players are expected to be defenders Libor Szulak and Wojtek Mozik.
9. “Neftekhimik” – 6.0
Legionnaires: c. Tuohimaa, z. Knock, z. Clot, n. Sexton, n. Gudachek
Over the past few seasons, one of the wolves’ main problems has been the goalkeeper line. Konstantin Barulin and Evgeny Ivannikov have not played at a level that corresponds to the KHL for a long time. This offseason, the Nizhnekamsk club has significantly updated the lineup of legionnaires, including signing a contract with the Finnish goalkeeper Frans Tuohimaa. Two Czech defencists appeared in defense – Lukas Knok and Rudolf Knot. As for the offensive line, the “wolves” relied on proven legionnaires in it – both Dan Sexton and Libor Gudachek already have successful experience of playing in Nizhnekamsk.
8. “Cupid” – 6.0
Legionnaires: c. Bartoshak, z. Jordan, z. Machines, n. Lenz, n. Tomasek
Khabarovsk “Cupid” in his selection did not leave the course for the Czech legionnaires. In the new season, the foreign legion of “tigers” will consist of 100% representatives of this country. The most interesting foreigner of Amur is the goalkeeper Patrick Bartoshak, who recently defended the gates of the national team. But in the fall of 2019, Trshinets terminated the contract with Bartoshak due to a “violation of the lifestyle of a professional athlete,” and the goalkeeper himself ended up in a psychiatric hospital. Now the Czech goalkeeper has dealt with his life difficulties and is ready to become the first number of Amur in the KHL.
Patrick’s company in Khabarovsk will include defenders Michal Jordan and Dominik Mashin, as well as forwards Radan Lenz and David Tomasek. In the preseason, the Czechs have already shown that on a good day they can be the key to their team’s victory. In the test match against Spartak, they had a hand in all of Amur’s goals in the majority.
7. “Ak Bars” – 6.5
Legionnaires: h. Kampfer, n. Will, N. Lindholm
Only the seventh place of the foreign brigade “Ak Bars” in our rating is primarily due to the fact that out of five (or even six) legionnaire places the Kazan team has filled only three at the moment. And, looking at Igor Bobkov’s game this summer, hardly anyone will be surprised if the club will soon seriously think about inviting a foreign goalkeeper to join Timur Bilyalov.
If we talk about the already existing foreigners, then so far only American defender Steven Kampfer has already shown his strengths (good skating, agility and excellent puck control in the majority draw). In turn, Canadian Jordan Will and Swede Per Lindholm are still frankly in the shadow of the team’s young players.
The signing of Lindholm could be a big failure of Ak Bars in selection. At the last World Cup, the Swedish national team performed in a disastrous way, for the first time in its history, failing to make it to the quarterfinals. And 29-year-old Lindholm was one of the culprits of this failure. The national team of Peru was given the opportunity to become a leading player – at the beginning of the tournament, he auditioned for the majority brigade and often went out on the ice at critical moments of the meeting. The output is zero points in seven matches with zero utility. And in the NHL, Per never showed outstanding statistics, trying to win a place in the composition at the expense of other trump cards.
6. “Siberia” – 7.0
Legionnaires: c. Syateri, z. Yokipakka, z. Murphy, n. Shore, n. Vedin
The Novosibirsk club only at the beginning of this week filled the position of the fifth legionnaire, exchanging defender Trevor Murphy from Ak Bars. Kirill Fastovsky, the general director of Siberia, made a deal with the Kazan club due to the injury of the team’s main defender Jyrka Jokipakka. The Finnish defender broke down early in the preseason and will definitely not be ready for the start of the new season. Siberia did not want to enter the championship without an attacking defender and they picked up Murphy, whom Ak Bars had long wanted to refuse from his services.
In the offseason, Siberia parted with Finnish forwards Mikael Ruohamaa and Juuso Puustinen, finding a replacement in the person of Nick Shor and Anton Vedin. In control matches, the Swede and the American are already showing good interaction, being the driving force of the team in attack. Harry Sateri remained at the last stage, extending his contract with the club for one more season.
5. “Metallurgist” Magnitogorsk – 7.5
Legionnaires: c. Olkinuora, z. Hultström, n. Maye, n. Carrie, n. Lipsic
Last season, Magnitka’s foreigners failed at the decisive moments of the season, becoming one of the anchors that dragged the team on vacation. It is not surprising that in the offseason, the Ural club renewed the foreign legion by 80%, keeping in the team only the Finnish goalkeeper Juho Olkinuora, who had the least questions among the legionnaires. However, the new choice of managers from the Urals also raised a fair amount of questions.
Forwards Philippe Maye and Josh Carrie arrived in the Urals with no KHL experience, and it was not hard to imagine both Canadians would face adaptation challenges. This choice of the Urals looked like a big risk, but so far both forwards of the Urals look very dignified, and even better, Brandon Lypsik, traded from CSKA, looks even better. In Igor Nikitin’s system, it was hard for the talented striker to reveal all his trump cards, while in Magnitogorsk, Brandon had to take the leading role.
4. “Avtomobilist” – 8.0
Legionnaires: V. Kovar, n. Da Costa, n. Cormier, n. Maysek, n. Spooner
Speaking about the foreign brigade of Avtomobilist, first of all, it should be noted that defender Jesse Blacker and striker Shane Prince are not legionnaires in the KHL, as they have played for the national teams of Kazakhstan and Belarus, respectively. In Yekaterinburg this summer we managed to collect a very decent set of foreigners. Frenchman Stéphane Da Costa is set to be the main conductor of the team’s attacks in the majority play, while Canadian Patrice Cormier will be assigned a key minority role.
Former Dynamo Minsk player Ryan Spooner looked great with his debut in the KHL season, for which he received an invitation to Avtomobilist. In the Yekaterinburg club he is played in conjunction with his former partner in the “bison” – Prince. So far, everything looks very good.
3. “Tractor” – 8.5
Legionnaires: V. Will, z. Piluth, n. Geek, n. Sedlak, n. Pulkkinen
There were high expectations from the foreign brigade of “Traktor” before the last season of the KHL. It is noteworthy that certain parallels can be drawn between the performances of the Chelyabinsk and Ufa legionnaires. If we focus exclusively on the results of the regular season, then there were no questions about Roman Will, Lawrence Piluth, Lukas Sedlak and Tomasz Gieck.
But in the playoffs, the foreigners of Traktor dissolved, faced with the resistance of Salavat, after which the Yulaevites themselves in the next round in a similar manner swooped down on Ak Bars. Both in the regular season and in the playoffs, only one foreigner of “Traktor” failed – the Swedish forward Pontus Oberg. It is not surprising that it was he who was replaced in Chelyabinsk by the Finnish striker Teemu Pulkkinen. Now the line of black and white legionnaires looks even more convincing than before the start of last season.
2. “Salavat Yulaev” – 8.5
Legionnaires: V. Metsola, z. Larsen, n. Hartikainen, n. Granlund, n. Manninen
Don’t break what works. This is exactly what they decided in “Salavat Yulaev”, without making a single change in their foreign set. The Ufa club has left its legionary composition unchanged, retaining in its ranks the goalkeeper Juha Metsola, defender Philippe Larsen, as well as forwards Teemu Hartikainen, Mikael Granlund and Sakari Manninen. At the end of the last regular season, the Finnish troika was recognized as the best in the entire league – they scored 63 goals for three. True, in the second round of the playoffs, the foreigners of Salavat frankly did not work out – Ak Bars found an antidote against the stars of the Ufa team, but they did not have any support.
1. “Vanguard” – 9.0
Legionnaires: V. Grubets, z. Helmets, z. Pokka, n. Knight, n. Ceglaric
With the winner of our rating, everything is quite simple – the result is determined by consciousness. In the past playoffs, the legionnaires of “Avangard” proved their class by deeds. Czech goalkeeper Shimon Grubets dominated the last frontier, claiming the best hockey of his career in the final series with CSKA. Defenders Oliver Kaski and Ville Pokka have done a great job both in special teams and in equal squads, and striker Corban Knight has established himself as one of the best centers in the entire league.
In the summer, the reigning KHL champion lost one of the main creators of his success – the American striker Reed Boucher. But the “hawks” promptly found a replacement for him in the person of the best forward of the past world championship, Peter Ceglarik. At the tournament in Sochi, the throws of the Slovak striker lacked accuracy, but for the summer matches it is much more important that Peter was constantly in the shooting position. When Tseglarik fully establishes mutual understanding with partners, he will become the main threat in the “Vanguard” when playing in the majority.