Looking to make the leap: Vadim Shipachyov

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This post is part of Golden Knights Day on PHT…

Full disclosure: We realize this specific ‘Team of the Day’ post is typically reserved for much younger high-end prospects looking to land a full-time NHL roster spot for the upcoming season.

Vadim Shipachyov is not young. He is 30 years old. He already has an impressive résumé as a professional.

So, in a sense, we’re going off the board here.

But after scoring 26 goals and 76 points during 50 games with St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL last season and spending his entire pro career in Russia, Shipachyov decided this spring to come over to North America and sign with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. His deal? Two years at $9 million.

He joins the Golden Knights as the organization’s first major free agent signing, having celebrated his 30th birthday in May and having never played an NHL game before. That said, his numbers in the KHL, particularly over the last two seasons with St. Petersburg, certainly stand out as he finished third in the league in points.

And, he plays in the middle, which is important to every team but especially one just getting off the ground and looking for offensive talent to help right away in order to be competitive while allowing their younger center prospects like Cody Class and Nick Suzuki time to develop.

“He brings skill and leadership to our organization — he wanted to be a Vegas Golden Knight, and we wanted him,” Golden Knights general manager George McPhee told reporters earlier this spring. “He’s been highly productive. He’s been a very good player and continues to improve.

“He’s a skilled center iceman. They’re very, very, very hard to find.”

With his skill and years of experience as a professional, the transition into the Vegas lineup should work out. That’s not to suggest it will be easy right away. But one would expect he’ll be given every opportunity to excel in his new surroundings, perhaps playing alongside an accomplished scorer like Neal.

At the very least, he’ll be expected to take on a top-six role when the season begins.

“I don’t think it will take too long for him to assimilate,” said McPhee, per Postmedia.

“Years ago, we had (Igor) Larionov and (Slava) Fetisov coming over and it took them a little time, but in recent years, players like Panarin and (Alexander) Radulov and Zaitsev have come over and done very well. If Vadim can come over and play close to that level, we’d be certainly very happy.”

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