KHL

Pavel Datsyuk isn’t coming back to NHL after all

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A few weeks ago, there were rumblings about Pavel Datsyuk potentially coming back to the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings. On Wednesday, those rumors were officially put to bed.

After spending the last three years with the KHL’s St. Petersburg SKA, the 40-year-old has signed with his hometown team, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. Datsyuk’s new contract is for one year.

Although it would’ve been cool to see Datsyuk back in the NHL with the Red Wings, it’s easy to understand why he’d want to suit up for his hometown team, again, before the end of his professional career. And according to agent Dan Milstein, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and the Red Wings were the only two teams he considered signing with this off-season.

The last time Datsyuk played in the NHL, he put up 16 goals and 49 points in 66 contests back in 2015-16. He’s coming off a season in which he scored 12 goals and 42 points in 54 KHL contests, so we know he’s still capable of playing at a high level.

But is this it for him in the NHL? Will we revisit a potential return to the Red Wings at this time next year?

We can always dream.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Oilers shift continues: MacTavish takes coaching job in KHL

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The Edmonton Oilers’ shift in management is continuing. Ken Holland was recently hired to serve as the Oilers’ new GM and now Craig MacTavish is leaving his post as Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations.

HC Lokomotiv of the KHL announced that MacTavish has signed a two-year contract to coach their team. MacTavish served as the bench boss of the Oilers for eight seasons, posting a 301-252-47-56 record and leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006.

MacTavish later served as their general manager from 2013-15 before being replaced by Peter Chiarelli, which led to MacTavish shifting to the Senior Vice President role he’s held until now. Although his departure comes during the Oilers’ remodeling following two disappointing seasons, this change might have ultimately been primarily about what MacTavish wanted.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what other news comes out of the Oilers in the coming months. We already know that Holland plans to hire a new head coach rather than keep Ken Hitchcock in that role and there could very well be more changes on the front office side as well.

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

Datsyuk leaves KHL team; Red Wings return possible?

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When Pavel Datsyuk left the NHL for the KHL after the 2015-16 season, it felt like he was putting an end to his playing career in North America.

Not so fast!

On Tuesday, Datsyuk announced via social media that his days with SKA St. Petersburg have come to an end.

“The St. Petersburg stage of my career has come to an end. These were the memorable years,” Datsyuk wrote (quotes have been translated from Russian to English). “I want to say thank you to the SKA club. In St. Petersburg, there are wonderful conditions for games and training, attentive staff – all this helps to concentrate exclusively on hockey.”

Earlier this year, Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, told a Russian media outlet that his client wasn’t ready to retire. And after Datsyuk made his announcement on Tuesday night, Sportsnet’s Ellliotte Friedman reported that Ken Holland had talked about the possibility of bringing the veteran back into the fold.

The Russian forward is expected to be back in Michigan in the next little while.

Holland, of course, is no longer the general manager in Detroit, but he remains in the organization. Steve Yzerman will now be the one to decide whether or not bringing Datsyuk back makes sense for this young Red Wings team.

Even though he doesn’t appear to be the most vocal guy in the locker room, the 40-year-old’s experience could help turn this Detroit franchise around. And let’s not forget that he showed he can still play. The veteran posted 12 goals and 42 points in 54 KHL games last season.

During his last NHL season, Datsyuk had a respectable 16 goals and 49 points in 66 games with the Red Wings. At this point of his career, the Wings don’t need him to be the go-to guy anyway. He just needs to help them with their transition from being a rebuilding team to a competitive one.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Golden Knights could get playoff boost from KHL scoring leader Gusev

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The Vegas Golden Knights looked a little overwhelmed by the sheer talent of the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If only they had, say, the leading scorer from the KHL this season …

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Nikita Gusev’s agent J.P. Barry confirmed that the 26-year-old forward has been released from his contract from St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL. Dreger reports that this opens up Gusev to sign a one-year entry-level contract with the Golden Knights for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Gusev is expected to join the Golden Knights by this weekend.

Barring a change-up that would put Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann rushing to join the Penguins to shame, one would think that this weekend would exclude Game 2 on Friday night (10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; Live stream), but who knows about Game 3 on Sunday (10 p.m. ET on NBCSN; Live stream)?

Overall, it’s difficult to tell if Gusev can get into the mix by Round 1 in general … but we’ll see.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

On one hand, it’s easy to see why people would be excited about this development.

Gusev topped all KHL regular-season scorers with 82 points in 62 games; in fact, second place point producer and former NHL forward Nigel Dawes was pretty far behind with 69. Gusev also generated 19 points in 18 playoff games, the second best total. Gusev also won a gold medal with Russia during the 2018 Winter Olympics, scoring 12 points in six games.

Yes, KHL successes don’t always directly translate to NHL success, yet we’ve also seen Artemi Panarin and Alexander Radulov go from strong work overseas to dominant play in the NHL. One could picture Gusev combining with, say, Alex Tuch to form a pretty frightening third line — or at least one that might keep up with Joe Thornton‘s also-frightening third line for San Jose. For all we know, Gusev could be a difference-maker during Round 1, and maybe beyond.

On the other hand, for all of the successes the Golden Knights have had in their first two years, there are a few reminders that not every player integrates well into this mix.

Vadim Shipachyov and Gerard Gallant mixed like oil and water, as Slepyshev went from being a KHL scorer with fascinating potential to a disaster (and ultimately, a footnote). There isn’t just the worry of a bumpy ride from the KHL to the NHL. Gallant didn’t have much success with a newcomer in Tomas Tatar, who became a healthy scratch during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and then returned to being effective during the 2018-19 regular season with the Montreal Canadiens.

Gallant certainly wasn’t making any promises when asked about Gusev — in fact, he admitted that he doesn’t know much about the forward (or at least that’s what he said).

“I don’t know much about him, and George (McPhee) mentioned it today there’s some reports out there,” Gallant said on April 11, via David Schoen and Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “If he joins us, then we’ll see what’s going to happen. But I don’t know the player well enough.”

Schoen confirmed Dreger’s report, and Barry’s additional comments make this sound like a work in progress:

It’s all a bit of a mystery, but hey, mysteries are fun, right?

For more on Friday’s Game 2 matchups, read The Wraparound.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

KHL player scores from own zone in back-to-back playoff games

KHL

Goaltenders getting scored on from the other end of the ice will happen from time to time. A bad skip of the puck or a bit of a screen will do enough to allow for a hole to open and disaster to strike.

But in back-to-back games? From the same player? Yep, that happened this week in the KHL.

Henrik Karlsson will be having nightmares about Maxim Chudinov for a while. As Karlsson’s Barys Astana played Chudinov’s Avangard Omsk, who are coached by Bob Hartley, in the KHL’s Gagarin Cup playoffs, the unthinkable happened.

As you see from Chudinov’s first one, Karlsson had a clear view of the puck, but some tough skips helped the puck get by him. Chudinov would add a second goal minutes later as Omsk would top Barys 3-1 to take a 3-1 series lead.

Two nights later, Chudinov, a 2010 seventh-round pick by the Boston Bruins, did it again.

It’s never a good sign when an announcer is laughing after you give up a goal.

That would end up as the insurance goal for Omsk as they eliminated Barys in five games to advance to the conference final.

Chudinov, who also popped in an own-zone goal back in August, may have learned a thing or two from former teammate Andre Kuteikin, who scored three times from center ice during the 2017 Gagarin Cup playoffs. Kuteikin followed that up with another long-range blast early last season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.