If it wasn’t for the lockout, Ilya Kovalchuk would probably be the New Jersey Devils’ top scorer and Nail Yakupov might already be making his case for the Calder Trophy. As it is, both are excelling in the KHL.
Kovalchuk was recently selected as the KHL’s player of the month and Yakupov was the top rookie for October, according to Chris Johnston.
Kovalchuk already has nine goals and 26 points in just 16 games with St. Petersburg. He’s easily leading the team in points, but St. Louis prospect and current teammate Vladimir Tarasenko has one more goal despite playing in three less games.
The fact that Kovalchuk decided to spend the lockout in Russia isn’t surprising, especially when you remember that he did the same thing in 2004-05, but Yakupov’s decision to play for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik over the Sarnia Sting in the OHL was perhaps a little unexpected.
Yakupov has been great in the KHL with 10 goals and 14 points in just 13 games. He’s expected to make the jump straight to the Edmonton Oilers when the lockout ends.