KHL President Alexander Medvedev presented two defecting NHL players at a press conference on Friday. He then made an announcement of a third import.
Unfortunately for Atlanta Thrashers fans, Maxim Afinogenov is headed to Russia.
Yahoo! Sports Dmitry Chesnokov reports that SKA St. Petersburg offered Afinogenov a five-year contract. He jumped at the opportunity to go home again.
The Thrashers found lightning in a bottle last season, signing the struggling Russian winger to a one-year, $800,000 contract. Afinogenov rebounded from his worst season as a pro with one of the best of his NHL career, posting 61 points (24 goals and 37 assists) in 82 games last season.
His asking price went through the roof. The stingy Thrashers were unwilling to meet his asking price. They must now look elsewhere for that final top-six forward.
It’s not surprising that Afinogenov landed in St. Petersburg. The Kontinental Hockey League team has aggressively courted any and every NHL player that they can get their hands on. They signed former San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov to a long-term deal and also signed defenseman Denis Grebeshkov.
They aggressively pursued Ilya Kovalchuk, offering him an expensive long-term deal before zeroing their sights on Afinogenov.
Three out of four ain’t bad.
With an ever dwindling list of available top-six forwards the options of improving the team from the outside are dwindling.
While it’s possible that Atlanta could try to acquire a player like Lee Stempniak or Mike Comrie or make another deal, GM Rick Dudley most likely will address Atlanta’s scoring needs from within.
Newly acquired Patrick Rissmiller and young forward Patrice Cormier will get extended looks at training camp and second-year players Evander Kane and Niclas Bergfors will be given additional responsibilities by coach Craig Ramsay.
But are the Thrashers about to even the score on the KHL?
Ben Wright of the club’s official blog is reporting that the Thrashers are talking to defenseman Andrei Zubarev about adding an “a” to the team he plays for. The Thrashers selected Zubarev in the sixth round (197th overall) in the 2005 draft.
The 23-year-old has filled nicely into his 6-foot-1, 202 pound frame and has turned into a “defensively minded defenseman” for Atlant of the KHL. Zubarev had seven goals, nine helpers and 59 peanlty minutes in 55 games for Atlant last season.
Chelios to retire? It looks like that ageless wonder Chris Chelios’ playing career is over and he is headed upstairs to the Detroit Red Wings front office. The 48-year-old defenseman sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field on Friday.
He told the Cubs TV crew, “It looks like I’m going to stay in Detroit and take a job with the Red Wings.”
Fox Sports Detroit confirmed the news with Red Wings GM Ken Holland.
Chelios, a 26-year NHL vet, is a Hall of Fame lock. He finished his career with the Thrashers last season.