Today I will sum up the most important KHL news for the last couple of days or weeks. It is a summary of the coronavirus effect on the league & some early transfer news including Mozyakin’s decision to leave Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Nikolay Goldobin coming back from North America.

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Coronavirus & the Cancelation of the 2019-20 Season

1. Before starting the coronavirus topic and decisions, we need to look at the end of February. The KHL President Alexey Morozov decided to release Georgy Kobylyanski. He was the KHL vice-president for hockey operations. Among others, he was responsible for day-to-day expansion talks. So the league will re-evaluate their daily communication strategy with potential expansion teams. So far, it is not publicly known who will execute the expansion. But per se, the league’s expansion communication will be different from Kobylyanski’s approach. The league’s aim is the same, unifying the best hockey clubs in Europe & Asia.

2. The KHL is a business-oriented league, so their decisions in the coronavirus period must be seen in that way. Russia has not been affected so much by the coronavirus outbreak, so the league kept playing their Gagarin Cup playoffs. After the first round, the league decided to pause the playoffs from March 17 to April 10.

3. Meantime, the league considered various options for the remainder of the season. But the most important factor under these considerations was time. Normally, the league needs almost two months for the playoffs. Other European hockey leagues have shorter playoffs. Finally, the KHL decided to cancel the remainder of the Gagarin Cup playoffs due to coronavirus, the decision was announced on March 25. The league could not wait anymore because this uncertainty affected the league’s preparation for the 2020-21 season. And the league would like to start the upcoming season on time with training camps starting in early July. So, the league could not risk finishing their playoffs for example in June.

Admiral Miss 2020-21 & the Changes in the KHL Board of Directors

4. The government of the Primorsky Krai decided to interrupt the participation of all professional sport clubs in competitions in the 2020-21 season. As a result, Admiral Vladivostok announced their pause in the KHL for the upcoming season. Later the league announced that Admiral Vladivostok planning to be back by 2021-22. The league has experience with teams taking a season-pause in the competition, I will name just Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (2011-12) & Spartak Moscow (2014-15).

5. The KHL Board of Directors usually meets in March or April to decide about the participants for the next season. As of now, the KHL Board of Directors has not met with this agenda.

6. But the KHL Board of Directors members were re-elected in early April. This procedure was planned due to Alexey Morozov’s appointment as the league’s president & change in other club’s representatives. The KHL Board of Directors has 21 members & Gennady Timchenko remains its Chairman.

Of course, Morozov replaced Dmitry Chernyshenko in this league’s organ. The KHL Board of Directors has another three new faces. Dinamo Minsk delegate is Dmitry Baskov, the club’s general director. He replaced Igor Shunevich who was Dinamo Minsk Supervisory Board Chairman. Another new face is Metallurg Magnitogorsk vice-president Sergey Laskov who replaced his predecessor Gennady Velichkin. And now, do not be confused, Alexey Morozov from the Russian Ministry of Sport is not the board member anymore. He is a different person from the league’s president, just names are the same. And finally, Vitaly Prokhorov is the new KHL Board of Directors member, he is also the new league’s vice-president for hockey hierarchy. So, he is responsible for prospects development through the MHL (junior) and the VHL (farm) to the KHL.

KHL News in the Transfer Market

7. KHL clubs can re-sign their players from January to the end of April. If the KHL wants to sign a new player, from other KHL teams or other leagues, it can be done after May 1st. Of course, negotiations usually take place earlier, so we can read some media reports even in March or April.

8. Ak Bars Kazan officially re-signed their goaltenders. Timur Bilyalov has extended for two seasons and the Swedish goalie Adam Reideborn has signed a contract for one season. Bilyalov was the second goalie in the league in save percentage (94.3 SVS%) while having eight shutouts. Reideborn played 36 regular-season games in his debut season in the KHL with a 91.3 SVS% & 2.11 GAA.

9. Two Czech players officially extended with their teams as well. Goalie Šimon Hrubec has signed a one-year contract with the KRS Beijing & forward Andrej Nestrašil has extended for one year with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Hrubec played 32 regular-season games in his debut season with 93.2 SVS% & 2.19 GAA. Nestrašil joined Magnitka from the Czech team Oceláři Třinec in October, despite it he became third in his new team with 24 points behind Sergey Mozyakin & Dennis Rasmussen.

Will Mozyakin Extend With Metallurg Magnitogorsk?

10. As you know, Metallurg Magnitogorsk changed its vice-president during the season,  Gennady Velichkin was replaced by Sergey Laskov. Velichkin worked as GM or vice-president of Magnitka since the early 1990s. Laskov earlier worked for MMK Group, whose owner – Viktor Rashnikov – is also the owner of Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Just for your curiosity, both MMK Group & Metallurg Magnitogorsk are co-founders of the KHL, so the KHL Board of Directors consists of two people from Metallurg Magnitogorsk – its president Viktor Rashnikov representing the MMK Group & vice-president Sergey Laskov.

11. But what was the reason for such a dramatic change in Magnitka’s leadership? Before the season Magnitka signed a few expensive players, but results on the ice were very poor at the beginning of the season. Some of these contracts are signed for the upcoming season as well, “just seven players take 80% of the salary cap,” said Laskov at the press-conference after the 2019-20 season. The club has to agree with these players on new & less expensive deals to fulfil the salary cap rules, ₽900 million as we wrote earlier. According to reports, defenceman Yegor Yakovlev and forward Nikolai Kulemin agreed to new terms, but defenceman Viktor Antipin refused. Early reports claim forward Sergey Mozyakin will leave the club too, but now both sides are negotiating about the contact’s extension. Looks like both sides understand that his contract’s value needs to drop to fulfil the salary cap rules.

Early Transfer Rumours  – Jaškin, Goldobin, Slepyshev & Dahlbäck

12. Finally, let’s look at some media reports about players’ transfers. But the first one is already a confirmed transfer, the Czech forward with the Russian roots Dmitry Jaškin has signed a two-year extension with Dynamo Moscow. According to Championat, his agent requests similar money as Shipachyov got earlier, around ₽100 million (around €1,5 million) per season. Jaškin debuted in the KHL this season while playing 58 regular-season games with 63 points (31+32). Moreover, he was the second in the league’s standing after his teammate Vadim Shipachyov. And he was just two goals behind the league’s best sniper, Kirill Kaprizov.

13. According to TASS, the Russian forward Nikolay Goldobin will sign a two-year contract with CSKA Moscow. According to Sport-Express, his contract will be worth around ₽100 million (around €1,5 million) for two seasons. He left the Russian hockey system as a 17-year old when moving to the Canadian major junior team Sarnia Sting (OHL). After the NHL draft, he has spent six seasons with the San Jose Sharks & Vancouver Canucks, but he has played just 125 NHL games during this period of time. Mostly, he played the AHL.

14. CSKA Moscow announced the extension of the contract with forward, Anton Slepyshev. He has reportedly signed a two-year contract while refusing a contract offer from the NHL’s club Edmonton Oilers. Slepyshev played for CSKA last two seasons after coming back from the NHL. He played 54 regular-season games with 45 points (18+27)  in 2019-20. He was the third in the team’s productivity after Kaprizov & Vey.

15. According to Sport-Express the Swedish defenceman Klas Dahlbäck plans to extend with CSKA Moscow for two years. He has played for CSKA since 2018-19, earlier he played in the NHL & native Sweden.

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Feature Image Credit: (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)

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I support European club hockey and I want European hockey to be as strong as possible. European hockey fans have witnessed too many attempts to launch a cross-border competition. I have been following hockey all my life and I have had the same question. Why is there not a hockey version of the UEFA Champions League? Or a European version of the NHL? 2008 was a year when a version of both, was launched. As a fan, I started to follow both leagues although it was not cool to follow the KHL at the time. Furthermore, it was a bit complicated to get the first-hand information about the KHL, the media did not cover the league as deeply as I would want. Based on my experience with the KHL & other European club hockey competitions I would like to write about the most important on and off-ice, issues of European club hockey.