Friday, 15 January 2016

KHL All-Stars

It seems that one of the all-star games scheduled for the January 23 weekend is close to being ready. The KHL announced a couple of days ago that they had named their all-star teams, and there are some pretty recognizable names on the squads. With the Swiss National League A reportedly looking at reducing the number of foreign-born players on their rosters, we could see more names we know next season. For now, though, the two conferences have players assigned to represent them, and I'm excited to see how this game plays out. There will be a skills competition like any other all-star game, but the 2016 KHL All-Star Game has a number of former NHL and AHL players dotting the lineups.


Alexei Murygin - Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
Ilya Sorokin - CSKA Moscow

Mat Robinson - Dynamo Moscow
Nikita Zaitsev - CSKA Moscow
Philip Larsen - Jokerit Helsinki
Cam Barker - Slovan Bratislava
Milan Jurcina - Medvescak Zagreb
Ziyat Paigin - HC Sochi

Alexander Radulov - CSKA Moscow
Ilya Kovalchuk - SKA St. Petersburg
Matt Ellison - Dinamo Minsk
Nikita Gusev - SKA St. Petersburg
Vadim Shipachyov - SKA St. Petersburg
Daniil Apalkov - Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
Kaspars Daugavins - Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod
Dmitry Kagarlitsky - Severstal Cherepovets
Brandon Kozun - Jokerit Helsinki


Alexander Salak - Sibir Novosibirsk
Juha Metsola - Amur Khabarovsk

Alexander Loginov - Salavat Yulaev Ufa
Vladimir Denisov - Traktor Chelyabinsk
Oskars Bartulis - Admiral Vladisvostok
Kevin Dallman - Barys Astana
Tobias Viklund - Lada Togliatti
Jonathan Blum - Admiral Vladivostok

Sergei Mozyakin - Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Linus Omark - Salavat Yulaev Ufa
Vladimir Sobotka - Avangard Omsk
Danis Zaripov - Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Anatoly Golyshev - Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg
Dmitry Kagarlitsky - Severstal Cherepovets
Jan Kovar - Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Kirill Kaprizov - Metallurg Novokuznetsk
Mikhail Varnakov - Ak Bars Kazan
Nigel Dawes - Barys Astana

Some of these names are familiar to North American fans as Cam Barker was a former Blackhawks defenceman, Alex Radulov is former Predator, Kovalchuk is that Russian guy who scored a bunch of goals, Daugavins played with the Senators and Bruins, Kozun is a former Maple Leaf, Jon Blum played with the Wild in both Minnesota and Iowa, Omark is a former Oiler and Sabre, Sobotka is a former Blue, and Dawes is a former Ranger and Flame. All of these players have done well in North America, but are really finding their game in Europe.

I'll be the first to say it: Ilya Kovalchuk should not be there. He hasn't had an all-star quality season, and there are players that would certainly be more appropriate for the game. That being said, he still is the biggest star in the KHL based upon his NHL and international achievements and the fans voted him in. I guess there will be no John Scott incident in the KHL with Kovalchuk going to the game.

It should be noted that there are a pile of teams not represented at the 2016 KHL All-Star Game. In the Eastern Conference, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk and Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk have no players going to Moscow. Ugra is 13th in the Eastern Conference, so that shouldn't be too surprising, but Neftekhimik is in eighth-place and in a playoff spot right now yet will have no one at the game.

In the Western Conference, Dinamo Riga, Spartak Moscow, and Vityaz Moscow are sending zero representatives. Not surprisingly, these are the 11th-, 12th-, and 13th-place teams in the 14-team conference. Somehow, Dmitry Kagarlitsky was sent from the 14th-place Severstal team, but the majority of the all-stars in the Western Conference come from playoff-bound teams.

I was shocked, though, that the top-two teams in the KHL by a large margin were only sending five representatives combined. CSKA Moscow and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl have 107 and 106 points, respectively, and have a 13- and 12-point lead on Avangard Omsk who is third-overall. The fact that SKA St. Petersburg, who is sixth-place in the Western Conference, is sending the same number of players as first-overall CSKA is a little bothersome when one considers how well CSKA has been playing. The fact that they have one more player going than second-overall Lokomotiv is very bothersome. Especially when Kovalchuk is going and doesn't deserve to be there based on his statistical results this year.

In any case, the KHL All-Star Game rosters have been set. I like the talent that the Eastern Conference has for the Skills Competition, but the Western Conference has the firepower to win the game. We'll find out which conference can claim supremacy in 2016 on January 23!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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