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Chance of KHL Stars Moving to the NHL?


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With the NHL being locked out I've been following the KHL pretty closely and obviously the NHL players are shining brightly, especially stars like Malkin, Ovechkin and Datsyuk. But alongside these world-class players are many KHL stars who are playing just as well, if not better, which begs to ask the question - what's the chance that these all-world players come to the best league in the world next season?

Malkin and Mozyakin are one prime example. Mozyakin was a late Columbus draft pick but is probably the best player in the world right now. As good as Malkin and Ovechkin have been, this guy has been lighting it up at a record pace and has sickening talent. Playing with Malkin sure does help (both combined for 10 points last night, Mozyakin with 4 more goals) but he has always been one of the KHL's best. This guy belongs in the NHL where he'd be an instant star.

The same can be said for Radulov, although he seems to love the KHL and hate North America after his few stints with Nashville and looks pretty determined to never leave Russia, but just watching him play with Datsyuk and Grabovski against the KHL defencemen, it's safe to say that they don't belong in that league.

Other standouts who would have some NHL success are Jori Lehtera who's having a great season, Patrick Thoresen who plays with Kovalchuk and defenceman Kevin Dallman of the same team who's having a strong all-around season.

My hoping is that watching some of our NHL stars tear it up in the KHL, their star players will realise that they truly belong in the best league in the world and will jump ship to come join them in North America. If a guy like Radulov, who was a KHL superstar with 80 points (record) in 52 KHL games can be a point-per-game producer then Mozyakin can do just as well (63 points through 37 games).

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Dont we still own Koltsov's rights... :P

Hey Down Unda; have u been able to watch games, or just highlights and box scores?

Me personally, I'm more worried new cap constraints will mean we will have less of a market in the NHL to offer role, defensive and depth players a decent go. If Hansen could get $3 mill to move??? Which actually might see role players going the other way, increasing the overall calibre of play in the KHL, but also decreasing some of the scoring put up by guys like Mozyakin.

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Many elite players in Europe could easily make an impact in the NHL, but I would just say the drive isn't there. Not the competitive aspect, but having to move to another continent, learning a new language, adapting to a different culture, etc. If you're a guy with a wife and kids, it just makes things even more difficult.

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The players mentioned above are all older players, some of whom have already given the NHL an opportunity at a younger age.

Patrick Thoresen, for example, spent two full seasons in the NHL between 2006 and 2008, and found little success. Sometimes skill does not translate well from league to league. While one can never rule out whether they would succeed in the NHL, we have to keep in mind these are older players, 30+ in age. These are stars who have established ways to succeed in the KHL but who would likely have trouble adapting to the NHL style at this point in their careers. Kirill Koltsov, a player many Canucks had paid close attention to in the past, is also much too old now to make the transition to the NHL.

Sergei Mozyakin, meanwhile, is an interesting player to imagine playing in the NHL. He has certainly had remarkable success in the KHL and in its predecessor, the Russian Superleague. He has, however, not represented Team Russia in either of the past two Olympics, and has generally been a bottom-six player at every World Championship he has participated in. While he is highly-skilled, one has to question whether his success would translate into NHL success. One player who could not succeed with the Pittsburgh Penguins but thrived in the KHL/RSL was Alexei Morozov. A player Canucks fans are familiar with, Sergei Shirokov, could very well be a second-line player in the NHL; in the KHL, however, he is an All-Star.

The KHL is a different league with a very different style of play. The KHL's wide-open style was exposed just yesterday in Salavat Ufa's Spengler Cup match vs HC Davos. It's a different style of play that caters to different types of players. Defensemen are nowhere near as technically sound as they are in the NHL. Certain players, such as Jiri Hudler, have thrived there while struggling to be effective in the NHL. Hudler scored 54 points in 54 games in his season with Dynamo Moscow. Mattias Weinhandl had 60 points that same year.

It's safe to say none of the aforementioned KHL stars will join the NHL. Aside from Mozyakin and Radulov, I'm not sure any of them would have much success either. The closest we have to a KHL star joining the NHL is Roman Cervenka, who has tremendous success in the KHL and Czech Extraliga. He joined the Calgary Flames during this past offseason. It's still undetermined whether he can do well in the NHL, though.

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I definately understand that the wider ice and poorer defensive play, looser checking and honestly much worse goaltending can make some of the KHL forwards look a lot more skilled than they would in an NHL game, but that being said there are plenty of purely skilled NHL players who manage to thrive.

Mozyakin's skill level would definately allow him to succeed in the NHL. He is on par with Radulov career-wise in the KHL and this season he's taken it to a new level, so there are few doubts there.

Physical defencemen like Kevin Dallman would certainly thrive in the NHL. He's having a great season points-wise and +/--wise, and is a big guy who wouldn't have to change his style of play to fit the NHL. If anything, playing on a larger surface is tougher for defencemen because they have more ice to cover and more creativity that they need to extinguish, so playing in a smaller NHL-style rink would make their lives a lot easier.

As for the transition to North America, many players including Ovechkin and Malkin had to do this at a young age with few Russians in the league already. Now, anyone coming over would have these superstars to help guide them. I doubt it would be possible due to contracts and cap hits, but if Mozyakin was to follow Malkin and Gonchar back to Pittsburgh for one last shot at the Stanley Cup before he retired they would not only have a good complement of Russians to help ease his transition but would be instant Cup favourites.

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