Report: Tikhonov eyeing NHL return next season

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Sounds like there’ll be an intriguing free agent option for NHL clubs this summer.

According to Russian news agency TASS, SKA St. Petersburg forward — and former Arizona Coyote — Viktor Tikhonov is posturing for a return to North America.

Per a (admittedly hasty) Google translation, TASS reports there’s a “probability of 95 percent” that Tikhonov, 26, bolts for the NHL, which makes sense given the Coyotes’ rights to him expire on July 1 — meaning he’s eligible to hit the UFA market.

This isn’t the first time he’s flirted with the idea of coming back, either.

The 28th overall pick in 2008 — who scored 16 points in 61 games in his rookie year (under head coach Wayne Gretzky!) — was reportedly contacted by Coyotes GM Don Maloney last May about a potential NHL return. Maloney, not coincidentally, went after Tikhonov during the 2014 World Hockey Championships, during which the winger captured top forward honors en route to leading the Russians to gold.

While Tikhonov’s stats haven’t been overwhelming this season (eight goals and 23 points in 44 games), his well-rounded, two-way game is held in relatively high regard. It earned him a spot on the Russian Olympic team in Sochi, and he was an effective penalty killer during his rookie campaign with the Coyotes.