Who was gathered in the West? 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. We start with the Western Conference, which lacks Dinamo Riga and Minsk, as well as Jokerit. 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 to evaluate the foreign clubs that set the rules for themselves with the same yardstick.
9. “Severstal” – 6.0
Legionnaires: z. Stenqvist, z. Press, n. Lishka, n. Nyattinen, n. Roba
Last season, Severstal head coach Andrei Razin did an amazing job, jumping with the Cherepovets club to sixth place in the Western Conference following the results of the regular season. Under the leadership of Razin, a number of Russian hockey players reached a new level, while the legionnaires frankly let the mentor and the whole team down. It is not surprising that at the end of the season, Severstal has greatly renewed the legionnaire brigade, having refused the services of the defenders Lalond and Vittasmäki, and also freed the forwards Berglund and Abdul from the team. They were replaced by interesting Swedish defenders Jakob Stenqvist and Robin Press, as well as the first Estonian in the history of the league – forward Robert Roba. According to the names, the new legionnaire composition of Severstal does not look like a star set, but who knows, maybe Razin will reveal these foreigners better,
8. HC “Sochi” – 6.5
Legionnaires: c. Hellberg, z. Yaks, z. Rundblad, n. Bakosh
At the moment, the “leopards” have not fully formed their legionnaire application, filling only four places out of five. On the positive side, attention is drawn to the figure of Magnus Helberg. With the right level of motivation, the Swedish goalkeeper can become the person who will greatly help Sochi in the fight to get into the playoffs.
Also in the offseason, the club managed to return to the Black Sea coast one of the best legionnaires in the short history of the club, the Slovak striker Martin Bakos. In turn, foreign defenders do not inspire confidence, especially the Swede David Rundblad, who openly quit playing hockey after his exchange from SKA.
7. “Knight” – 7.0
Legionnaires: h. Kemilyainen, n. Odette, n. Indrashis, n. Aaltonen, n. Oyamyaki
Vityaz’s key offseason transfers are associated with the return of Finnish center forward Miro Aaltonen to Podolsk and the signing of a contract with Canadian forward Donald Odette. Obviously, according to the idea of the manager of the Moscow Region team, Odette should take on the function of replacing his compatriot Justin Danforth, who moved to Columbus. Vityaz was also strengthened by another Finn – Niko Oyamyaki, who won the 2019 World Champion title with his national team, and the Latvian striker Miks Indrashis, perfectly adapted to play in the KHL.
6. “Spartak” – 7.5
Legionnaires: c. Dansk, z. Head, z. Erzhabek, n. Pettersson, n. Lehtera
The main question connected with the legionnaire brigade of “Spartak” is whether the goalkeeper Oscar Dansk will be able to reveal his potential. Once one of Sweden’s most talented goalkeepers, he had a disastrous time overseas. In the last season in the Vegas system, the 27-year-old goalkeeper played only 12 matches, having lost his place as the main goalkeeper even in the farm club of the Knights. Frankly, Oscar started the preseason with Spartak badly, conceding 11 goals in 2 meetings.
Among the field hockey players in the Moscow club are very decent foreigners, and, given the not very high level of Russian selection of players, it is on the shoulders of the legionnaires that the main burden of responsibility for the team result will fall.
5. Dynamo Moscow – 7.5
Legionnaires: z. Tchaikovsky, N. Lindbergh, n. O’Dell, n. Klinkhammer (?)
Dynamo Moscow is still in the process of completing the legionary recruitment. On the eve it became known that in the near future the blue and white will announce a one-year agreement with Rob Klinkhammer. In this case, the 35-year-old striker will become the second Canadian in the Dynamo team, because earlier Eric O’Dell moved to the Russian capital. Perhaps, the fate of Dynamo in the new season of the KHL depends on the success of these transitions.
Both transfers caused huge skepticism among the contented large mass of fans of the Dynamo team – after all, O’Dell last went on the ice in an official match at the beginning of October 2020, and he is already of considerable age against Klinkhammer. However, at the preseason training camp, O’Dell became one of the best players of Dynamo, thanks to which he has already staked out a place in the top-6 attacks. As for Klinkhammer, he should help the majority of Dynamo very much in playing on a penny. It is no coincidence that Rob was called the “king of the patch” in the KHL for a long time. And it was from there that Klinkhammer scored the golden goal in the 2018 Gagarin Cup final.
4. CSKA – 8.0
Legionnaires: V. Reideborn, z. Dalbeck, z. Gilmore, n. Nordström, n. Wallmark
It’s amazing how a club with such a budget and capabilities as CSKA has disposed of the existing limit on legionnaires. The current finalist of the Gagarin Cup ranks fourth in our ranking of foreigners exclusively due to the figure of goalkeeper Adam Reideborn. At the last World Cup, the Swedish goalkeeper was by far the best player in the tournament in his team – and in CSKA he should calmly win the fight for the first number position against Ivan Fedotov. At the same time, despite the laudatory reviews addressed to Reideborn, it is still necessary to understand whether he is stronger than Johansson, from whose services the Moscow club decided to refuse.
As for the rest, the legionnaires of the army team raise big questions – in the places of defender John Gilmore and striker Juakim Nordström, it was definitely possible to find stronger foreigners. Another Swede – Lucas Wallmark – can shoot in the KHL if he finds chemistry with his linemates, but he is unlikely to become an iron killer of army attacks. In the offseason, CSKA made a bet on the Swedish market of players, signing also defender Viktor Svedberg, but he is not considered a legionnaire in the KHL, since he played for the national team of Kazakhstan.
3. “Torpedo” – 8.0
Legionnaires: h. Lennström, n. Mile, n. Grivik, n. Agostino, n. Zaar
On paper, Torpedo did a very good job in the transfer market. The transitions of Kenny Agostino and Daniel Zaar could be one of the best boosts in the entire league. The figure of Marek Grivik, who has already left a good impression in this preseason, also looks good.
Agostino, 29, has a reputation as one of the brightest stars in the second strongest North American league. In 2017, he was even named AHL’s Most Valuable Player of the Season with 83 points for the St. Louis Blues farm club, making him the top scorer in the regular season.
Zaar has long established himself in his native Sweden as a striking scorer. The past season became the best of his career – in 63 matches he scored 58 (22 goals, 36 assists). Zaar has an excellent throw and high speed, but his weak point for a long time remained instability, which prevented the hockey player from playing internationally. In the KHL, Daniel can take his career to the next level and try to return to the Swedish national team.
2. SKA – 8.5
Legionnaires: V. Johansson, z. Fantenberg, n. Kemppainen, n. Hendemark, n. Wei, n. Strömwall
Colleagues of the Moscow army from St. Petersburg also turned their gaze to the Swedish hockey players. Four of them gathered on the banks of the Neva at once, and the total number of foreigners exceeds the permissible limit for one person. Obviously, the army team will come out of this situation at the expense of the figure of Lars Johansson, who from time to time will remain on the podium in a non-game day for himself.
The debut season in the KHL will be held by the Swedish center-forward Fredrik Hendemark, while his compatriot Malta Strömwall, as well as Finn Joonas Kemppainen and Canadian Linden Wei have long established themselves in the KHL from a positive side. Oskar Fantenberg has a huge front-line workload and is one of the finest defensive defenders in our league.
1. Lokomotiv – 9.0
Legionnaires: c. Pasquale, z. Curran (?), N. Petersson, N. Boucher
A lot is expected from Andrey Skabelka’s charges in the new season. Last summer, the Belarusian drew to Yaroslavl well-known legionnaires: Eddie Pasquale and Andre Petersson. And this offseason, Lokomotiv made one of the coolest transfers, signing one of the main heroes of the Vanguard campaign, Reed Boucher.
Officially, at the moment, only three legionary positions are filled in Yaroslavl, but it is believed that Cody Curran, the rights to which were acquired in early May, should move to the position of the defender. However, even without him, the composition of the railway workers allows them to qualify for at least an exit to the Gagarin Cup final.